Tropical Rattlesnake

Common Name: Tropical rattlesnake


Family: Viperidae

The Tropical rattlesnake is a reptile that is found mainly in forests of Southern Mexico, Central America, and Brazil to Argentina including Rainforest of Costa Rica. Also found in the national Parks, i.e. Santa Rosa National Park, and Palo Verde National Park. Mostly found in low elevation in the open areas and dry forest of Guanacaste.

Size: The size of a Tropical rattlesnake averages 1.4 meters, maximum 2.1 meters. It is heavy bodied with length ranging from 3 feet to 6 feet.

Weight: Rattlesnakes range in size from the large Eastern Diamondback, which reaches 8 feet and weights of up to 10 lbs., to the tiny Ridge-nosed Rattlesnake, which only reaches 12 inches and weighs only 3 to 4 ounces.

Diet: Tropical rattlesnakes are carnivores (meat-eaters). They eat rodents, lizards, mammals, reptiles, amphibians, birds, fish and eggs. They are venomous and kill (or paralyze) their prey by injecting poison through hollow fangs.

Average life span: The average lifespan of a rattlesnake rages from 20 to 30 years in captivity. In the wild, the lifespan is less due to predation, death by accident or disease.
Habitat: It is usually found in sandy places, dry hillsides and plantations. Low elevation dry forest, forest clearings, dry grasslands, northern Pacific slope; or in rock crevices.

Breeding/Reproduction: Unlike most snakes, rattlesnakes do not lay eggs but retain the eggs in their bodies until they hatch, then giving live birth and the female looks after their newborns 7-12 days after birth. Rattlesnakes reach sexually maturity at the age of three years. Mating usually takes place in the spring after emerging from hibernation, but can also occur in the fall also. During the process of mating, the female rattlesnake is passive while the male crawls on top of her. Making jerking motions with the hind portion of his body, the male presses his tail beneath the female’s tail to inseminate her. The male continuously flicks his tongue throughout the mating process which can continue for several hours. Females are able to store the semen for months, allowing them to fertilize the ova sometimes six months later. The female rattler may carry from four to 25 eggs, from which an average of nine or ten young are born live. A female rattlesnake usually reproduces every two or three years. Young are usually born between August and October.

SPECIAL FEATURES: highly venomous

Tropical rattle snake falls in the group of the most venomous pitviper species of snakes of the world. It belongs to the genus of Crotalus and family of Viperidae. At present nine species are recognized. It is heavy bodied with length ranging from 3 feet to 6 feet. The color of the body varies from light to dark brown with a triangular shaped head. Two stripes of darker shade runs from the top of the head along the neck with a noticeable ridge running along the middle of the back. The brilliant color scales and beaded texture give unique appearance to the snake. There is one rattle located near the tail which makes sound when shaken and hence it got the name ‘rattle snake ‘.

Tropical rattle snake is widely distributed in all over Costa Rica, in the rainforest, dry forest, scrublands, grasslands and even open areas. It is not nocturnal in nature and prefers to live in ground or rock crevices during day time. It feeds on rodents, lizards, small mammals and occasional birds. It kills the prey by venomous bite rather than constricting and swallows the head first. It attacks its prey on grounds, holes; sometimes chases the injured prey till its death. The gastric juice inside the intestine helps the snake to digest the whole prey including bones and flesh. It goes for a long rest by coiling at one warm place if the meal is adequate.

The mating season for tropical rattle snake is summer or fall. It is viviparous in nature that is female snake gives birth to young one. It carries the eggs inside her body. The mature female reproduces once in three years.

Tropical rattle snake is considered as extremely dangerous for its highly toxic venom. It strikes the victim with little or no warning beforehand. The venom it injects is a highly neurotoxin; it is actually a combination of neurotoxin and hemotoxin components that affects the central nervous system .The snake bite may results in paralysis of central nervous system and causes great damage to tissues and muscles . The other serious complications are complete blindness, auditory disorder, life threatening respiratory paralysis. The older and larger snake possesses potent venom. However, it is rarely fatal for humans if treated promptly within quick time.

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