Most rattlesnakes gain their common names from their geographic distribution or some aspect of their physical appearance. A good example of the latter is the speckled rattlesnake (Crotalus mitchellii). Even though their names seem cute or “speck-tacular,” you might still want to keep your distance from these snakes as they are venomous pit vipers belonging to the Viperidae family.
They are also experts in camouflage, as their colors are ideally matched to their environment. How big they are, is a question that springs to mind. A speckled rattlesnake is often medium-sized, making blending in even more impressive. But what is the record for the largest speckled rattlesnake? That is exactly what we will discover in this article and other fascinating facts!
How Long Do Speckled Rattlesnakes Grow?
The overall length of a speckled rattlesnake, including the tail, typically does not exceed 100 cm (39 in), with large males measuring between 90 and 100 cm (35 and 39 in). Newborns are 20 to 30 centimeters (8 to 12 inches) long, while adult speckled rattlesnakes are usually 60 to 75 cm (24 to 30 inches) long.
Speckled rattlesnakes are larger than other lesser-known snakes. They are, nevertheless, attentive and often swift, despite their size.
How Long is the Largest Speckled Rattlesnake Ever Found?
Even though no specific speckled rattlesnake has been discovered to be the largest of them all, the race on Isla Angel de la Guarda is reported to grow larger than other subspecies, with the longest specimen measured at 136.7 cm (53.8 in). It is a venomous pit viper that is only found on Isla Angel de la Guarda in Mexico’s Gulf of California.
Most speckled rattlesnakes grow to be between 24 and 30 inches long, but certain specimens from various habitat areas in the southwestern United States and northwestern Mexico have been documented to be over 35 inches long. While there are no detailed accounts of the largest speckled rattlesnakes, no additional sightings or reports of the same snake species exceeding the maximum length have been revealed.
What Do Speckled Rattlesnakes Look Like?
Individual color and pattern vary, typically reflecting the earth tones of the rocks and soil they call home, but speckled rattlesnakes always appear as speckled, gritty sand that matches their habitat. Some of the speckles appear in lovely colors of orange or pink, and some form irregular bands or pairs of blotches on the backs of most snakes. Some desert examples have a decomposed granite color. The darker-speckled scales have black ends, and the tail is frequently banded.
The speckled rattlesnake has a slender neck and a flat, wide, triangular head. Its rough-scaled body is moderately sturdy, with a short tail that ends in a rattle. With enlarged overhanging scales and vertical pupils, its eyes appear silvery. Similar to all rattlesnakes (and other pit vipers), this snake has heat-sensing pits on both sides of its head that it uses to detect warm-blooded prey. A pit is placed between the nostril and the eye on each side of the head. Their heat-sensing organs can detect any object whose temperature differs from the ambient temperature.
Where are Speckled Rattlesnakes Found?
In the United States, the range of speckled rattlesnakes includes east-central and southern California, southwestern Nevada, extreme southwestern Utah, and western Arizona. In Mexico, it is found across Baja California, including Baja California Sur. They also live on Angel de la Guarda Island, Carmen, Cerralvo, El Muerto, Espiritu Santo, Monserrate, Piojo, Salsipuedes, and San José islands in the Gulf of California, and Santa Margarita Island off the coast of Baja California Sur.
Speckled rattlesnakes prefer rocky terrain up to 8,000 feet (2,500 meters). This species is more common in rocky areas inland from the shore in southern California. It also lives on rocky hillsides and alluvial deposits in the desert but is rarely spotted along the coast. They have been seen emerging into mammal burrows at dusk; thus, they are not strictly rock dwellers. Their coloring varies depending on the habitat’s rocks and soil color.
What Do Speckled Rattlesnakes Eat?
The speckled rattlesnake is an ambush predator that preys on small animals such as rodents, squirrels, rats, mice, birds, and lizards – the latter is particularly eaten by juveniles. The venom of the speckled rattlesnake, injected through needle-sharp front fangs, is hemotoxic, attacking its prey’s tissue and red blood cells.
Are Speckled Rattlesnakes Dangerous?
The quick answer is yes. A pair of long, needle-sharp front fangs distinguishes vipers in general. The speckled rattlesnake is a member of the Viperidae family of snakes, and its venom is hemotoxic, attacking its target’s tissue and red blood cells. Humans bitten by this snake will have regional discomfort, edema, discoloration, and possibly tissue damage.
The good thing is that human encounters with speckled rattlesnakes are uncommon. Thermal detection and vibration awareness help these snakes escape humans and other larger predators. Approaching intruders may be warned by the snake’s constant rattling, higher head and body posture, and striking movements. This snake is not as aggressive as the “average” rattlesnake, yet it will bite if threatened, just like its cousins. A bite from this snake would almost surely result in a trip to the emergency room, and it could even be lethal to humans. The speckled rattlesnake should be left alone if seen in the wild. If you want to see it from a safe distance, do so, but respect the snake’s right to personal space.
Other Record-Breaking Snakes
A reticulated python was discovered in 1912 and measured 10 meters, or about 32.8 feet long. This length is longer than the height of a giraffe, according to the Natural History Museum. The snake was found in Southeast Asia, where reticulated pythons can grow to be up to 30 feet long in some cases. They are nonvenomous constrictors that feed on small mammals, birds, and other reptiles like lizards and snakes. Reticulated pythons have an average lifespan of 25-30 years if they’re kept as pets. They can also be dangerous when threatened due to their size and ability to constrict prey tightly with their powerful muscles. In captivity, they need large enclosures with lots of hiding places as well as access to water for drinking/soaking since they do not drink from standing water sources like most other species of snakes do.
The photo featured at the top of this post is © Alexander Wong/Shutterstock.com
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