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The Top 10 Deadliest Rattlesnakes in the World

Larry Slawson received his Master's Degree from UNC Charlotte in 2018. He has a keen interest in biology.

What is the world's deadliest rattlesnake?  Which species is the most dangerous to humans?  This article answers these questions (and more) as it examines and ranks the world's deadliest species of rattlesnake.

What is the world's deadliest rattlesnake? Which species is the most dangerous to humans? This article answers these questions (and more) as it examines and ranks the world's deadliest species of rattlesnake.

What is the Deadliest and Most Dangerous Rattlesnake?

Throughout the globe, a number of rattlesnake species exist that are capable of inflicting serious harm, injury, or death on unsuspecting humans. From the deadly tiger rattlesnake to the eastern diamondback, this work examines the 10 deadliest rattlesnakes known to currently exist worldwide. It provides a brief analysis of each snake’s geographical range, traits and characteristics, aggressiveness, and venom toxicity in relation to humans. It is the author’s hope that a better understanding (and appreciation) of these fascinating snakes will accompany readers following their completion of this work.

Selection Criteria

In order to select (and rank) the world’s deadliest rattlesnakes, a number of basic criteria was necessary for the extents and purposes of this work. First and foremost, each of the rattlesnakes listed below were selected according to their venom toxicity in relation to humans. Ranking each snake with this specific factor in mind is a common criteria that has been applied in numerous articles, and offers one of the best means for selecting the following animals.

In addition to their venom potency, each of the snakes were then selected according to their potential for inflicting death on the human population at large. It is vital to note that each snake’s potential for causing death is based on the assumption that no medical attention was sought by victims following a bite. This criteria was especially important to consider, as a number of antivenoms exist to counteract snakebites (thus, limiting their overall fatality rates worldwide). As such, it was vital to make this assumption as most snakebites are survivable in the modern-era if appropriate medical treatment is administered rapidly. While limitations to this approach are certainly present, the author believes that this criteria offers the best means for determining (and ranking) the 10 deadliest rattlesnakes in the world.

Warning!  Deadly rattlesnakes ahead!  Read at your own risk!

Warning! Deadly rattlesnakes ahead! Read at your own risk!

The World's 10 Deadliest Rattlesnakes

  • Desert Massasauga Rattlesnake
  • Banded Rock Rattlesnake
  • Southern Pacific Rattlesnake
  • Tiger Rattlesnake
  • Massasauga Rattlesnake
  • Neotropical Rattlesnake
  • Timber Rattlesnake
  • Western Diamondback Rattlesnake
  • Eastern Diamondback Rattlesnake
  • Mojave Green Rattlesnake
The desert massasauga rattlesnake.

The desert massasauga rattlesnake.

10. Desert Massasauga Rattlesnake

  • Average Size: 1.5 to 2-feet
  • Geographical Range: Southeastern Arizona, New Mexico, and West Texas
  • Danger to Humans: Moderate
  • Aggression Level: Moderate
  • Conservation Status: Unknown (Insufficient Data)

The desert massasauga (also known as “Edward’s massasauga,” or “Edward’s rattlesnake”) is a species of highly-venomous rattlesnake from the Viperidae family. Endemic to the Southwestern United States and parts of Northern Mexico, the desert massasauga is capable of reaching approximately 2-feet in length (making it an incredibly small, but dangerous specimen to observe in the wild). They can be easily identified by observers due to their light grey (sometimes white) base that is highlighted by dark grey (or greyish-brown) blotches along the back.

Living primarily in rocky and semiarid locations, the desert massasauga is a nocturnal species that does the majority of its hunting at night. Although the snake can be occasionally seen during the day basking in the sunlight, its natural habitat is often too hot for the snake to be caught in the open. As with most species, the desert massasauga primarily feeds on small mice and various rodents that it comes across in the wild.

Desert Massasauga Rattlesnake Bite Symptoms and Treatment

Similar to many rattlesnake specimens, the desert massasauga’s venom is comprised of a powerful series of cytotoxins. According to the University of Adelaide, the snake’s toxins (drop-for-drop) are more potent than most of the larger species of rattlesnake in the wild (toxinology.com). Fortunately, venom yields for this species are quite low; thus, resulting in far less potential for fatalities. Upon envenomating their prey (or victims), the desert massasauga’s venom quickly goes to work and is known to cause severe swelling, muscle pain, weakness in the extremities, as well as dizziness. Prolonged exposure to the deadly venom almost always results in necrosis of the wound site, followed by severe pain. Without treatment, death is possible.

Standard treatment for a desert massasauga bite includes several rounds of CroFab Antivenom in cases where severe envenomation has occurred. For mild cases, hospital admittance, prolonged bedrest, and the administration of intravenous fluids is common, followed by a recurring regimen of pain medication to stop body aches and pain. In the majority of cases, most people will make a full recovery from a desert massasauga bite if proper medical attention is sought. Long-term complications, however, are common and include pain and weakness near the wound site for several weeks or months (following envenomation).

The infamous banded rock rattlesnake.

The infamous banded rock rattlesnake.

9. Banded Rock Rattlesnake

  • Average Size: 1.5 to 2-feet
  • Geographical Range: Arizona, New Mexico, Texas, and Northern Mexico
  • Danger to Humans: Moderate
  • Aggression Level: High
  • Conservation Status: “Least Concern” (Population Stable)

The banded rock rattlesnake (also known as the “green rattlesnake,” or “green rock rattlesnake”) is a species of highly-venomous pit viper from the Viperidae family. Endemic to the Southwestern United States and parts of Northern Mexico, the banded rock rattlesnake is a relatively shy (but incredibly dangerous) species capable of inflicting serious bites when disturbed by humans. The animal can be easily identified by its extremely small size (reaching only 2-feet at maturity), as well as their distinctly green or purple coloration that is covered by grey banding. In areas around El Paso, Texas, some banded rock rattlesnakes have even been observed with a unique “pearl” coloration that is crossed by well-defined crossbands (black). To date, the snake’s population numbers are considered stable by the IUCN, with a classification of “least concern” as of March 2021.

Within its natural habitat, the banded rock rattlesnake is commonly found in rocky outcroppings and more mountainous terrain. As a nocturnal species, they are rarely seen during the day, and spend most of their life in a single area. Primary diet for the banded rock rattlesnake includes lizards and small rodents, such as mice and rats.

Banded Rock Rattlesnake Bite Symptoms and Treatment

The banded rock rattlesnake possesses a potent mixture of haemotoxins and neurotoxins that are deadly in small amounts. Following envenomation, one of the primary symptoms of a bite (for humans) is excessive hemorrhaging (bleeding) due to the haemotoxin’s effect on clotting properties in the bloodstream. This is generally followed by localized swelling of the wound site, necrosis, as well as dizziness, migraine headaches, and stomach discomfort. Without medical treatment, complications are common with the possibility of death in people with compromised immune systems. Fortunately, the snake is considered extremely shy and timid, and will actively try to escape from humans whenever possible.

To date, no human fatalities have been reported for the banded rock rattlesnake in recent decades, as the prevalence of antivenom has proven to be an extremely effective antidote to the snake’s venomous properties. Nevertheless, experts agree that any bite from this species should be considered a life-threatening event, as the chance for death is highly possible without medical intervention. As with most snakebite victims, standard treatment for a banded rock rattlesnake bite involves pain mitigation therapy, several rounds of CroFab antivenom, as well as palliative care that aims to make the patient as comfortable as possible. Likewise, intravenous fluids may also be employed by doctors in order to maintain hydration. Although most patients will make a full recovery from their bite, long-term complications are common for this species, and include muscle pain (or weakness), as well as scarring from the necrotic effects of the snake’s venom on the skin.

The deadly Southern Pacific rattlesnake.

The deadly Southern Pacific rattlesnake.

8. Southern Pacific Rattlesnake

  • Average Size: 2 to 4.5-feet
  • Geographical Range: Southwestern California and Baja California
  • Danger to Humans: High
  • Aggression Level: Moderate
  • Conservation Status: Unknown (Insufficient Data)

The Southern Pacific rattlesnake (sometimes referred to as the “black diamond rattlesnake”) is a species of deadly pit viper from the Viperidae family. Endemic to Southwestern California and Baja California, Mexico, the Southern Pacific rattlesnake is a dangerous species capable of seriously injuring bystanders with its potent venom. In regard to their size, most of these snakes reach an approximate length of 24 to 55 inches at maturity, making them a relatively small to medium-sized species in comparison to other rattlesnakes. They can be easily identified by their pale brown, grayish-brown, or yellowish-brown coloration (depending on locality), as well as their dark brown dorsal blotches that take on a diamond-like shape.

Little is known about the Southern Pacific rattlesnake’s habitat preferences. Nevertheless, it is believed that they are fond of rocky outcroppings that provide them with ample protection from the elements (and potential predators). From these positions, the snake actively hunts a number of prey, including small birds, lizards, and small rodents (such as mice and rats). Occasionally, the Southern Pacific rattlesnake may also hunt other snakes when the opportunity arises.

Southern Pacific Rattlesnake Bite Symptoms and Treatment

The Southern Pacific rattlesnake possesses a highly toxic venom that is comprised of both myotoxins and hemotoxins that attack the body’s muscular-skeletal system, as well as the blood. As such, their venom is often compared to that of the Mojave green rattlesnake, in terms of its properties. Following a bite, the Southern Pacific rattlesnake’s venom immediately begins to attack the victim’s body, resulting in vision problems, dizziness, difficulty with speech (and swallowing), as well as labored breathing. Muscular weakness and extreme hemorrhaging (bleeding) is also common due to the toxic myotoxins and hemotoxins that are present within the venom (Owlcation.com).

Bites from a Southern Pacific rattlesnake are considered life-threatening emergencies that require immediate medical attention. A single bite can easily be fatal with this species due to the potency of its venom. To date, standard treatment for a Southern Pacific rattlesnake bite includes the administration of Crotalidae polyvalent immune fab (Crofab) antivenom, which is used throughout the United States to treat a variety of pit viper bites. This is followed by palliative care, pain mitigation therapy, as well as the administration of intravenous fluids. In cases involving breathing difficulties, intubation may also be necessary. To date, fatality rates for this particular species remain unknown, but are expected to be relatively high without medical treatment. For these reasons, the Southern Pacific rattlesnake is a species of snake that should be avoided at all costs.

The tiger rattlesnake.

The tiger rattlesnake.

7. Tiger Rattlesnake

  • Average Size: 2 to 3-feet
  • Geographical Range: Southwestern United States and Northern Mexico
  • Danger to Humans: Moderate
  • Aggression Level: High
  • Conservation Status: “Least Concern” (Population Stable)

The tiger rattlesnake is a species of highly-venomous pit viper from the Viperidae family. Endemic to the Southwestern United States and parts of Northwest Mexico, the tiger rattlesnake is an incredibly small species known to reach 3-feet at maturity. In spite of this small size, the animal is incredibly dangerous and possesses a lethal bite that is harmful to both humans and animals alike. The tiger rattlesnake can be easily recognized due to its spade-shaped head, large rattle, as well as its cross-pattern that consists of a grey, lavender, pink, and blue coloration (Owlcation.com).

From within its habitat in the Southwestern United States and Northern Mexico, the tiger rattlesnake is most commonly observed at elevations from sea level to approximately 4,800-feet (maximum). Common habitats include canyons, foothills, grasslands, as well as deciduous forests. From here, the snake feeds primarily on small rodents, lizards, and packrats. Prey as large as a kangaroo rat has also been observed by experts.

Tiger Rattlesnake Bite Symptoms and Treatment

As with most rattlesnake specimens, the tiger rattlesnake possesses a highly potent form of venom that is comprised of several neurotoxins and myotoxins. The toxins are so powerful that a number of scientists regularly classify the snake as the second most venomous rattlesnake species in the world. Fortunately, bites from this specimen are extraordinarily rare, with only a handful of bites recorded over the last century. Likewise, full envenomation from the tiger rattlesnake is nearly impossible to achieve due to its incredibly small size. As a result, bites from this animal usually produce only localized pain and swelling for humans, along with muscular pain and weakness. For those with compromised immune systems, however, researchers point out that the tiger rattlesnake’s danger should never be taken likely, as children and elderly individuals face the prospect of life-threatening complications from a single bite.

Bites from a tiger rattlesnake should be deemed a life-threatening emergency that requires immediate medical care. To date, treatment consists of several rounds of antivenom (CroFab) in order to prevent death. In cases involving children, the elderly, or those with compromised immune systems, doctors tend to be more aggressive with their treatment plans as envenomation is capable of producing serious consequences for these specific groups. Following the administration of antivenom, patients can expect an extended stay in the hospital, with extensive bedrest, intravenous fluids, and pain mitigation therapy. As of 2021, untreated mortality rates for tiger rattlesnake bites are unknown. Due to their high-venom toxicity and potential for causing death though, experts warn that this is a snake that should be avoided at all costs.

The deadly massasauga rattlesnake.

The deadly massasauga rattlesnake.

6. Massasauga Rattlesnake

  • Average Size: 2 to 2.5-feet
  • Geographical Range: Southern Canada, Midwestern United States, and Northern Mexico
  • Danger to Humans: Moderate
  • Aggression Level: Low
  • Conservation Status: “Least Concern” (Population Stable)

The Massasauga rattlesnake is a species of highly-venomous pit viper found throughout the midwestern United States, Southern Canada, as well as parts of Northern Mexico. Similar in many ways to the deadly tiger rattlesnake, the Massasauga is relatively small in its size and weight, reaching only 30-inches at maturity. As with many rattlesnake species, the animal can be easily recognized by its grey and tan coloration, as well as brownish-black spots that adorn the central regions of its back.

The Massasauga is found predominantly at elevations below 4,900-feet. Common habitats for the animal include swamps, marshes, grasslands, as well as prairies. Similar to most snake specimens, the Massasauga primarily feeds on smaller animals. This includes mice, rats, frogs, lizards, and insects. As an opportune feeder, however, the snake has also been known to consume other snakes when the occasion arises.

Massasauga Rattlesnake Bite Symptoms and Treatment

The Massasauga rattlesnake possesses a highly toxic venom that is comprised of cytotoxins, enzymes, and various neurotoxins. Combined, these powerful toxins unleash a coordinated attack on an individual’s skin tissue, blood, and central nervous system. Following envenomation, symptoms usually begin within a short span of time, and involve necrosis of the skin, muscular pain and weakness, dizziness, as well as migraine headaches, and stomach discomfort. Internal bleeding is also extremely common with a Massasauga bite, as the venom is known to disrupt blood flow and prevents clotting. Without treatment, death is highly possible. And while bites from the Massasauga rattlesnake are relatively rare (accounting for only 1 to 2 bites a year in North America), this species remains an incredibly dangerous animal that should be avoided whenever possible.

In regard to fatality rates for this species, no deaths have been reported (due to a Massasauga rattlesnake bite) in over 40 years. This is due, in part, to the remote nature of the snake, as well as the fact that nearly 50-percent of its bites are “dry,” resulting in no envenomation. Likewise, advances in antivenom have greatly reduced fatality rates as well. Nevertheless, experts agree that any bite from a Massasauga should be considered a life-threatening emergency that requires immediate treatment for survival. In cases involving severe envenomation, standard treatment involves the administration of CroFab antivenom, followed by extensive bedrest and observation by medical professionals. And while most can expect to make full recoveries from their bite, it is important to note that long-term complications of the skin are common, with scar tissue and pain being among the most cited complaints.

The highly venomous neotropical rattlesnake.

The highly venomous neotropical rattlesnake.

5. Neotropical Rattlesnake

  • Average Size: 5 to 6-feet
  • Geographical Range: Central America, including Mexico and Costa Rica
  • Danger to Humans: High
  • Aggression Level: High
  • Conservation Status: “Least Concern” (Population Stable)

The neotropical rattlesnake (also known as the “Central American rattlesnake,” “Middle American rattlesnake,” or the “Yucatan neotropical rattlesnake”) is a deadly species of snake from the Viperidae family. Endemic to Mexico and Central America, the neotropical rattlesnake is a large species capable of reaching over 6-feet in length at maturity. They can be easily identified by their flat nose, “rough” scalation, as well as their brownish-tan body that is highlighted by dark brown crossbands (resembling brown diamonds). To date, they are regularly cited as one of the most dangerous specimens of rattlesnake on the planet, with the potential to seriously harm or kill humans with ease.

Throughout Central America, the neotropical rattlesnake is most commonly found in the region’s forested areas, with large concentrations of the snake occurring along the Mexican coastline. Within these arid (or semiarid) zones, the snake commonly feeds on small mammals, birds, and amphibians. Due to their crepuscular behavior, lizards and other nocturnal species are also common dietary options for the neotropical rattlesnake.

Neotropical Rattlesnake Bite Symptoms and Treatment

The neotropical rattlesnake possesses a highly-potent venom that is comprised of both hemotoxins and neurotoxins. Combined, the two toxins unleash a devastating attack on an individual’s blood supply, nerves, and nervous tissue. Following a bite, symptoms usually begin suddenly and range from moderate to severe in their intensity. They generally include severe pain, swelling of the wound site, as well as blistering and necrosis of the skin. Disruptions to the blood’s clotting properties are also common from neotropical rattlesnake bites, leading to blood pressure issues, dizziness, as well as severe bleeding (both externally and internally). Without proper medical treatment, death is common as the venom directly damages the kidneys resulting in renal failure.

Bites from a neotropical rattlesnake are extremely serious and require immediate medical attention. In fact, it is currently estimated by the University of Adelaide that approximately 75-percent of individuals will die from a neotropical rattlesnake bite without appropriate medical care. This is due, in part, to the toxic properties of the snake’s venom, as well as the massive venom yield produced by the snake from a single bite. If medical care can be sought in a timely fashion, standard treatment includes large quantities of antivenom to counteract the effects of the bite and to prevent further damage to the body’s internal organs. This is followed by pain mitigation therapy, as well as extensive bedrest, and intravenous fluids to maintain appropriate hydration. Dialysis may also be utilized in severe cases to prevent additional damage to the kidneys.

In spite of these advances in medical treatment, long-term complications are common for neotropical rattlesnake bites. This includes severe muscle weakness and pain, as well as necrosis and scar tissue around the wound site. In severe cases, doctors may also have to amputate legs or arms to prevent death. As such, the neotropical rattlesnake is an incredibly dangerous species that should be avoided whenever possible.

The deadly timber rattlesnake.

The deadly timber rattlesnake.

4. Timber Rattlesnake

  • Average Size: 5 to 6-feet
  • Geographical Range: Eastern United States
  • Danger to Humans: High
  • Aggression Level: Moderate
  • Conservation Status: “Least Concern” (Population Stable)

The timber rattlesnake is a species of deadly pit viper that is endemic to the Eastern United States. Similar to the eastern diamondback in its overall size (reaching over 5-feet in length at maturity), the timber rattlesnake is an incredibly large animal capable of subduing a variety of small prey with its size, strength, and potent venom. The snake can be easily identified by its brownish coloration, large rattle, as well as its unique series of crossbands that are signified by yellow, black, brown, and grey markings. To date, the timber rattlesnake is regularly considered one of the most dangerous species in North America, and is an animal that should be avoided at all costs by humans.

Along the East Coast, the timber rattlesnake is predominantly found in more rugged terrain where local vegetation and the natural environment offer plenty of protection (and concealment) from predators. This terrain includes rocky ledges and outcroppings, forests, and dense woodlands (Owlcation.com). Within these areas, the timber rattlesnake is also afforded a wide array of prey. Using ambush tactics, the snake is renowned for its adaptability and ability to use logs (and other debris) to hide itself from prey. Common dietary options for the timber rattlesnake include squirrels, mice, shrews, rats, small rabbits, birds, and lizards.

Timber Rattlesnake Bite Symptoms and Treatment

To date, the timber rattlesnake is regularly classified as one of the deadliest snakes in North America due to its toxic venom and large fangs that are capable of delivering high yields of venom. Their venom consists of a potent mixture of neurotoxins, hemotoxins, and myotoxins that affect an individual’s central nervous system, blood, as well as internal organs. Following a bite, symptoms usually begin within minutes and include severe muscle pain (and spasms), excessive bleeding, as well as defibrination which involves the formation of large blood clots throughout the body. Once this occurs, other symptoms such as chest pain, as well as difficulty breathing (and talking) are common. Swelling, nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea are also common, along with dizziness and headaches. Without treatment, death is common.

As with all rattlesnake specimens on this list, a bite from the timber rattlesnake should be classified as a life-threatening emergency that requires immediate medical treatment. Fortunately, medical advances in the realm of antivenom have made bites from this species rarely fatal, as several rounds of CroFab Antivenom are usually highly effective at neutralizing the effects of the snake’s venom. Moreover, most timber rattlesnake bites are considered “dry” bites in that little to no venom is produced, making the bite extremely painful but not deadly. Nevertheless, in cases involving severe envenomation, victims face life-threatening issues that require a steady supply of antivenom, hydration through intravenous fluids, as well as plenty of bedrest, and pain-relieving therapy. Likewise, long-term complications are relatively common from severe bites, and can persist for several months or years after an initial bite. For these reasons, the timber rattlesnake is an animal that you should probably avoid whenever possible.

The highly venomous (and deadly) western diamondback rattlesnake.

The highly venomous (and deadly) western diamondback rattlesnake.

3. Western Diamondback Rattlesnake

  • Average Size: 5 to 7-feet
  • Geographical Range: Southwestern United States and Northern Mexico
  • Danger to Humans: High
  • Aggression Level: Extreme
  • Conservation Status: “Least Concern” (Population Stable)

The western diamondback rattlesnake is a species of highly venomous pit viper from the Viperidae family of snakes. Found throughout the Southwestern United States and parts of Northern Mexico, the snake is an incredibly aggressive and dangerous animal capable of delivering a highly-toxic (and deadly) bite to humans. Reaching nearly 7-feet in length (at maturity), the western diamondback is also one of the largest venomous snakes in North America. Apart from its tremendous weight and length for a snake, the animal can be easily identified by its grayish-brown coloration, large rattle, as well as its signature brownish-grey “diamond” bands that line its back.

From within its natural habitat, the western diamondback tends to spend much of its time near desert regions, grasslands, as well as the numerous pine-oak forest that are found in the region. Rocky canyons and hills are a particular favorite for this species as the heat-retention in these areas are relatively high, providing the snake with extra warmth during the winter and fall. Due to its tremendous size, the western diamondback is also afforded a wide range of food in this region, with few predators to worry about. This includes squirrels, cottontail rabbits, mice, rats, moles, gophers, voles, and prairie dogs (Owlcation.com). Birds, lizards, and insects are also common dietary options for this species, along with smaller snakes when the occasion presents itself.

Western Diamondback Rattlesnake Bite Symptoms and Treatment

The western diamondback rattlesnake is an incredibly dangerous animal with the potential to harm and kill a human with ease. This is due, in part, to the snake’s large fangs, extremely aggressive nature, as well as its potent venom that is comprised of hemotoxins, cytotoxins, myotoxins, and proteolytic enzymes. Combined, these powerful toxins unleash a devastating attack on an individual’s muscular-skeletal system, central nervous system, as well as the heart, and blood supply of a victim. Following envenomation, symptoms usually begin within minutes, and include severe bleeding (both externally and internally), swelling of the puncture site, bruising, blistering, and necrosis of the skin. This is followed by migraine headaches, nausea, severe abdominal cramps (and vomiting), as well as dizziness, severe pain, and diarrhea. Left untreated, convulsions and severe blood loss are common, followed by irregularities with the heart that can lead to cardiac arrest.

To date, doctors estimate that approximately 20-percent of all western diamondback rattlesnake bites will lead to death. As such, a bite from this species should be deemed a medical emergency that requires immediate treatment for survival. As of 2021, CroFab Antivenom remains the primary treatment option for western diamondback bites, with several rounds often needed due to the high-venom yield of this species. Hospital admittance is almost always required for victims, with intravenous fluids, bedrest, and pain mitigation therapy playing a major role in recovery efforts. Close monitoring of an individual’s heart and cardiovascular system is also necessary for western diamondback bites, as heart attacks are one of the number one causes of death from exposure to the snake’s potent venom.

For those lucky enough to survive from a bite, long-term complications are common, and include muscle pain and weakness (near the wound site), severe scarring, as well as heart complications that may be permanent or dissipate over time. For these reasons, individuals should exercise extreme caution when in the vicinity (or known habitat) of the western diamondback rattlesnake.

The eastern diamondback rattlesnake.

The eastern diamondback rattlesnake.

2. Eastern Diamondback Rattlesnake

  • Average Size: 6 to 8.5-feet
  • Geographical Range: Eastern United States
  • Danger to Humans: Extreme
  • Aggression Level: Moderate
  • Conservation Status: “Least Concern” (Population Stable)

The eastern diamondback rattlesnake is a species of highly venomous snake from the Viperidae family. As its name implies, the snake is endemic to the eastern United States, and is regularly classified as one of the largest snakes in North America (with a maximum length of approximately 8.5 feet, and average weight of 34 pounds at maturity). The snake can be easily identified by its extremely long rattle, brownish-yellow (sometimes grey) coloration, as well as the distinct “diamond” pattern that lines its dorsal region. Within their distribution area and habitat, the snake is commonly found in pine forests, palmetto flatwoods, as well as marshes, sandhills, swamps, and prairies.

Classified as a terrestrial species, the eastern diamondback rattlesnake spends the majority of its time hunting (and ambushing) prey along the ground. The common diet for this species includes rabbits, mice, rats, birds, lizards, insects, and the occasional squirrel. As a remarkably slow snake, however, the eastern diamondback is often forced to set up ambush points in order to subdue its prey. Combined with its potent (and powerful) bite, a single strike is capable of taking down small animals within seconds, allowing the snake to devour its meal with ease.

Eastern Diamondback Rattlesnake Bite Symptoms

The eastern diamondback rattlesnake possesses an extremely toxic venom that carries a 30-percent fatality rate amongst individuals unfortunate enough to be bitten. This is due, in part, to the snake’s massive fangs which deliver large venom yields in nearly all bite cases. Possessing a series of low-molecular-weight peptides, as well as an enzyme known as crotalase, the eastern diamondback’s venom is known to produce intense hemorrhaging, muscular pain and weakness, hypotension (low blood pressure), as well as vomiting and stomach discomfort. Without rapid medical care, the venom will eventually cause individuals to enter cardiac arrest, leading to death within hours.

Treatment

To date, the best treatment option for an eastern diamondback rattlesnake bite is several rounds of CroFab, ANAVIP, or Wyeth’s ACP antivenoms. Massive doses are occasionally needed, as the snake is renowned for its ability to inject large quantities of venom into their victims. Pain-mitigation therapy is also crucial, as the bite from this species is characterized as extremely painful. To lessen the extent of the pain, doctors often immobilize the affected body part, cleaning and wrapping the wound thoroughly. This is followed by the administration of pain-relieving medication, as well as intravenous fluids to maintain adequate hydration. While many individuals will make a full recovery from their bite, fatalities are still extremely high (in the vicinity of 20 to 30-percent). Likewise, long-term complications are common for eastern diamondback bites, and include severe muscle pain and weakness that can last for weeks, months, or sometimes several years. As such, this is an incredibly dangerous species that should never be approached or provoked by onlookers.

The Mojave green rattlesnake; deadliest rattlesnake species in the world.

The Mojave green rattlesnake; deadliest rattlesnake species in the world.

1. Mojave Green Rattlesnake

  • Average Size: 4 to 4.5-feet
  • Geographical Range: Southwestern United States and Central Mexico
  • Danger to Humans: Extreme
  • Aggression Level: High
  • Conservation Status: “Least Concern” (Population Stable)

The Mojave green (also known as the Mojave rattlesnake) is a species of highly venomous pit viper from the Viperidae family. Found throughout the Southwestern United States and parts of Central Mexico, the Mojave green is regularly classified by experts as the deadliest rattlesnake species in the world due to its potent venom. The snake is relatively long, reaching upwards of 4.5 feet at maturity, and can be easily identified by its distinct coloration that varies between light brown and green (hence its name), as well as its distinct rattle that is large with white bands.

Due to its preference for dry conditions, the Mojave green predominantly inhabits deserts, mountain slopes, grassy plains, as well as lowland areas with little vegetation. Within these areas, the snake hunts a variety of mammals, amphibians, and reptiles. These include mice, rats, frogs, lizards, insects, small birds, as well as the occasional snake (if the opportunity arises). As a result of its deadly venom, experts believe that the Mojave green possesses few natural predators in the wild, with the exception of hawks and eagles.

Mojave Green Rattlesnake Bite Symptoms

The Mojave green possesses a highly potent venom that is comprised of toxins comparable to many elapid species (such as the black mamba, king cobra, and inland taipan). In spite of its power, however, most bites from this species take several hours to produce symptoms, leaving individuals with a false sense of assurance regarding the severity of their wound. Once symptoms present themselves, individuals face a rapid decline in their overall health, with vision problems, difficulty breathing (and swallowing), as well as an inability to speak being among the most cited complications. This is followed by muscle weakness and pain, convulsions, as well as severe body pain. Left untreated, the venom’s neurotoxins are almost always fatal for humans, resulting in either cardiac arrest or respiratory failure.

Treatment

Bites from a Mojave green are considered a life-threatening event that requires immediate treatment for survival. Standard treatment involves several rounds of an antivenom known as CroFab; a substance developed with portions of the Mojave green’s venom in its manufacture (owlcation.com). This treatment is highly-effective for bite victims, and has made fatalities from this species relatively rare for the last 50 years of its development (compared to a 30-percent fatality rate for individuals prior to its inception). Coupled with palliative care, bedrest, and intravenous fluids (for hydration purposes), most individuals make a full recovery from their wound. Nevertheless, long-term complications from Mojave green bites are common, with muscle pain, vertigo, and organ damage being among the most common complaints from individuals.

In spite of advances in medical care, the Mojave green rattlesnake is an incredibly dangerous species of snake with an aggressive streak to match its venom toxicity. For these reasons, it is easily the deadliest rattlesnake species in the world.

Works Cited

Articles/Books:

Images/Photographs:

  • Wikimedia Commons.
  • Pixabay

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and does not substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, and/or dietary advice from a licensed health professional. Drugs, supplements, and natural remedies may have dangerous side effects. If pregnant or nursing, consult with a qualified provider on an individual basis. Seek immediate help if you are experiencing a medical emergency.

© 2021 Larry Slawson

Comments

Miebakagh Fiberesima from Port Harcourt, Rivers State, NIGERIA. on July 18, 2021:

Were you really afraid? It's natural to reproduce after a kind. But scientist, pochers, and naturalists have not find a use for these deadly animals in terms of money. Only then can the population reduce.

Cheryl E Preston from Roanoke on July 18, 2021:

WHy must there be so many of these snakes? Still a great story.

Miebakagh Fiberesima from Port Harcourt, Rivers State, NIGERIA. on July 17, 2021:

That I agree.

Raja Adnan Afzal from Rawalpindi, Pakistan on July 17, 2021:

very informative and a great piece of knowledge. @Larry

Pamela Oglesby from Sunny Florida on July 16, 2021:

I am glad most of the deadliest snakes do not live near me. They are very frightening. You have provided a wealth of good information in this article, Larry. I hope to never see one of these snakes up close!

Miebakagh Fiberesima from Port Harcourt, Rivers State, NIGERIA. on July 15, 2021:

Very informative and educating with clear photos. Thanks.

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