Commonly known as the Mohave (or Mohave Green) rattlesnake, Mohave Diamond rattlesnake, and the Desert Diamondback, it’s a venomous pit viper, best known for its especially potent venom. It has a reputation for being particularly aggressive and deadly to humans; however the scientific and medical literature does not support this. Nevertheless, it is a dangerous snake worthy of respect and caution.

Where are they found?

Mohave rattlesnakes are desert animals. In California, they are found in the desert areas of San Bernardino, Los Angeles, and Kern Counties, as well as the southern edge of Inyo County. Wild rattlesnakes encountered in northern California or in the mountains and coastal areas of southern California are other species.

Their habitat is primarily open desert areas among scrub brush such as mesquite and creosote, but may also reside among cacti, Joshua tree forests, or grassy plains.  They often shelter in rodent burrows. Construction in areas that were previously wilderness can create snake “hot spots”.

How can they be identified?

This snake grows to a length of two to four feet. The color varies from shades of brown to pale green depending on the surroundings. It closely resembles the Western Diamondback rattlesnake; both have a dark, diamond pattern down their backs and tails ringed with black and white bands. However, on the Mohave rattlesnake, the white bands tend to be wider than the black and the diamonds fade toward the tail; whereas in the Diamondback, the band width is usually more equal and the diamonds do not fade so noticeably.

How can snakebites be prevented and what should you do in the event of a snake bite?

Steps to prevent snakebites and first-aid recommendations in the event of snakebite are similar to other poisonous snakes.

What are the symptoms of a Mohave rattlesnake bite?

The venom of the Mohave rattlesnake contains a potent neurotoxin that has proven to be one of the most lethal to mice in laboratory tests. As with all snakebites, the amount of venom injected is highly variable and not immediately obvious. In the case of the Mohave rattlesnake, the severity of the bite is sometimes initially underestimated because the onset of serious signs and symptoms can be delayed and because severe envenomation may occur with little or no bruising or swelling at the bite location (which is typical of most other rattlesnake species).

Although there may be few local effects, there may be significant neurologic poisoning, eventually producing a variety of effects including vision abnormalities and difficulty swallowing and speaking. In severe cases, skeletal muscle weakness can lead to difficulty in breathing and even respiratory failure. Fatalities, however, are uncommon. Note: contrary to popular myth, pencil-sized newborn rattlesnakes are not more dangerous than adults. Regardless of how much of their venom they inject or any difference in potency, they have far less venom available than big snakes. Research shows that severe bites are usually caused by large rattlesnakes; they simply have much more venom to inject.

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The above evaluations and/or recommendations are for general guidance only and should not be relied upon for medical advice or legal compliance purposes. They are based solely on the information provided to us and relate only to those conditions specifically discussed. We do not make any warranty, expressed or implied, that your workplace is safe or healthful or that it complies with all laws, regulations or standards.

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