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The Hot Spot
Where each month we will showcase a venomous reptile. Check out which species it is this month, and learn interesting facts !

"Which is better: to fear all snakes and keep out of danger, or become educated and fear those only that can be harmful to you?" - Bill Haast on the Discovery Channel


There are about 40 species and sub species of snakes found in California, only 11 are venomous and a danger to humans.


There are 11 species of venomous snakes that inhabit California. Anyone who lives in or visits California should make themselves aware of these snakes, and learn how to identify them. Children especially, whom snakes often fascinate, should be made aware of these 11 species. A lot of snakebites occur because people are uninformed about the venomous snakes that inhabit California, and mistakenly think them harmless. The best rule of thumb is - if you don't know what kind of snake it is - leave it alone.

These 11 species are listed below

ruber-02.jpg (250484 bytes)
Northern Pacific Rattlesnake
Crotalus oreganus oreganus
C.o.oreganus-01.jpg (142072 bytes)  
Great Basin Rattlesnake
Crotalus oreganus lutosus
C.o.lutosus-02.jpg (109813 bytes)  
Southern Pacific Rattlesnake
Crotalus oreganus helleri
helleri_02.jpg (132040 bytes)  
Panamint Rattlesnake
Crotalus mitchelli stephensi
Crotalus_mitchellii_stephensi-02 a.jpg (236663 bytes)  
South Western Speckled Rattlesnake
Crotalus mitchelli pyrrhus
C.m.pyrhus-03 a.jpg (113402 bytes)  
Mojave Rattlesnake
Crotalus scutulatus scutulatus
C.s.scutulatus-03.jpg (66024 bytes)  
Mojave Desert Sidewinder Rattlesnake
Crotalus cerastes cerastes
Colorado Desert Sidewinder Rattlesnake
Crotalus cerastes laterorepens
C.cerstes laterorepens-01.jpg (56303 bytes)  
atrox-16.jpg (85462 bytes)  
Yellow-Bellied Sea snake
Pelamis platurus

A word of caution: If you find a snake, and you do not know whether or not it is venomous, the safest thing to do is leave it alone. Most snakes are not aggressive and, unless they are cornered, most will flee when humans approach. Occasionally, you might encounter one that is reluctant to leave because it is basking in the sun to get warm. Among snakebite victims, an unacceptably high number are bitten on the hands and arms when they are handling the snake. Do not catch a snake and do not handle one unless you are sure it is not venomous. In addition, for a short time after a snake is killed, its reflexes may continue to work. Those reflexes typically cause the body to writhe slowly for a while, but they can cause a convulsive contraction and a bite, so you should not handle a freshly killed venomous snake.
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