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Old 04-25-17, 01:12 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Rattlesnake Differentiation Question From Newbie

First, I wanted to say hello, as this is my first post and I am very much a newbie, with many questions and lots to learn. So new that I had to google the word "Herping" (At least I now know the term for what I've been enjoying ) Luckily there are fantastic forums, such as this one, to handhold guys like myself.

I live in Southern California and hike some of the popular trails in my area, and it seems as if there's a hell of a lot more rattlers after the heavy rains. I hike 5-6 days a week, and have personally seen a rattlesnake 4 out of the last 5 hikes this week alone, so I decided to learn as much as possible. Plus I'm fascinated as hell with all of the other critters as well.

My first question is this:

What are the most obvious differences between a Western Diamondback Rattlesnake and a Red Diamondback Rattlesnake? I have tried several searches online, but I can't seem to find the answer. I'm not even sure these are not one in the same to be honest, but I don't think so.

I thought the easiest way was by their tail. I understood that they both have the black & white banding around the tip of their tails, but the Red Diamondback's are more uniform and are the same widths, whereas the Western's are not. However when I use Google Images to confirm this, there are both types shown.

Also, I've also been wondering how far rattlers, in general, stray from their dens on average to hunt. I've heard .5 miles, 1.5 miles, 10 meters, but nothing too convincing. I've also googled that question as well before I posted it.

Thanks,
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Old 04-25-17, 02:21 PM   #2 (permalink)
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Re: Rattlesnake Differentiation Question From Newbie

Welcome to sSNAKESs!!
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Old 04-25-17, 03:32 PM   #3 (permalink)
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Re: Rattlesnake Differentiation Question From Newbie

Crotalus atrox (Western Diamondback) is bigger than C. ruber (Red Diamondback), and ruber is red-ish in color (hence the name). Also the distribution is different. C. ruber seems to be mostly on the west coast California area, both US and Mexico, while C. atrox goes all the way from there to east into Texas. But yes, they seem very similar to each other.

Not that I know from my own experience (I'm not from the US, and never been there), this is what google more or less pooped out.

And yes, welcome
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Old 04-25-17, 03:49 PM   #4 (permalink)
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Re: Rattlesnake Differentiation Question From Newbie

There is no really obvious distinction between them. The western diamondback rattlesnake (Crotalus atrox) is gray to grayish brown and has dark spots in its diamonds (there is also a difference in the scales of the underside of the head, but I think you don’t want to be close enough to differentiate this). The red diamond rattlesnake (Crotalus ruber) is more reddish and lacks dark spots in the body blotches.

The best way to differentiate them is their distribution. There is only a small area where they might overlap. The most western distribution in California for Crotalus atrox is Riverside and Imperial counties. Crotalus ruber occurs from San Bernardino and Los Angeles counties southward through Baja California, another author describes it as the peninsular ranges. So basically, if you live and hike in the costal area it is the red diamond rattlesnake, if you are near the border to Arizona it is the western diamondback.

C.H. Ernst: Venomous Reptiles
S. Shupe: U.S. Guide to Venomous Snakes
P.R. Brown: A Field Guide to Snakes of California

Oh and TRD was a little faster…

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Old 04-25-17, 04:49 PM   #5 (permalink)
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Re: Rattlesnake Differentiation Question From Newbie

Thank-you both for the prompt replies.

Quote:
So basically, if you live and hike in the costal area it is the red diamond rattlesnake, if you are near the border to Arizona it is the western diamondback.
Sounds as if the "distribution" is the best way then for my case, and I suppose I need not worry about the Western Diamondbacks in my county (San Diego, CA), just the Red Diamonds then.

We also have the Southern Pacifics in the same area, but I find the Diamondbacks much more fascinating myself.

Thanks again!
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Old 04-25-17, 05:29 PM   #6 (permalink)
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Re: Rattlesnake Differentiation Question From Newbie

This is fascinating! I live in Riverside County in California and I really should be more familiar with our snake population, especially the ones that could harm me. The closest I've been to a rattlesnake was 2nd grade when my teacher brought in a skin to teach us about them. Must be interesting to see one while hiking! I don't hike and I also avoid fields specifically to avoid rattlesnakes, but I would love to see one in the wild. At a distance. That I could back away from haha.
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