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rattlesnake,poisonous New World snake of the pit viperpit viper,
poisonous snake of the family Crotalidae, primarily a New World family. Like the Old World true vipers (family Viperidae), pit vipers have long, hollow, erectile fangs that are folded back against the roof of the mouth except when the snake is striking.
..... Click the link for more information. family, distinguished by a rattle at the end of the tail. The head is triangular, being widened at the base. The rattle is a series of dried, hollow segments of skin, which, when shaken, make a whirring sound. When the snake is alarmed, it shakes its tail, and the noise serves as a warning to the attacker. While the snake is young, three or four segments are usually added each year, one at each molt. After maturity fewer develop and old ones start to break off. Rattlesnakes feed on rodents, birds, and other warm-blooded animals. Like other pit vipers, they have heat-sensitive organs in pits on the sides of the head, which help them locate and strike at their prey. The erectile fangs are folded back in the mouth, except when the snake strikes. The venom is highly toxic to humans and occasionally proves fatal (see snakebitesnakebite,
wound inflicted by the teeth of a snake. The bite of a nonvenomous snake is rarely serious. Venomous snakes have fangs, hollow teeth through which poison is injected into a victim.
..... Click the link for more information. ). Rattlesnakes bear live young. Most species are classified in the genus Crotalus. The timber rattlesnake, C. horridus, is found from S Maine to NE Florida and W to Iowa and Texas. It is from 3 1-2 to 5 ft (105–150 cm) long and is yellow or tan with wide, dark crossbands. The largest and deadliest species is the eastern diamondback rattlesnake, C. adamanteus, of the S and SE United States, which reaches a length of 5 to 8 ft (1.5–2.4 m). The western diamondback, C. atrox, is shorter and thicker. The western, or prairie, rattlesnake, C. viridis, sometimes lives in prairie-dog burrows. The sidewindersidewinder,
common name for a rattlesnake, Crotalus cerastes, found in the deserts of the SW United States. This 2-ft (60-cm), pale yellow and pink snake is named for its curious method of locomotion.
..... Click the link for more information. , C. cerastes, is a North American desert species. The approximately 30 Crotalus species range from S Canada to N Argentina. The genus Sistrurus comprises the three pygmy rattlesnake species of the United States and Mexico. The smallest, S. miliarius, of the SE United States, is under 18 in. (45 cm) long. Rattlesnakes are classified in the phylum ChordataChordata
, phylum of animals having a notochord, or dorsal stiffening rod, as the chief internal skeletal support at some stage of their development. Most chordates are vertebrates (animals with backbones), but the phylum also includes some small marine invertebrate animals.
..... Click the link for more information. , subphylum Vertebrata, class Reptilia, order Squamata, family Crotalidae.
See study by L. M. Klauber (2d ed. 1972).
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Any of a number of species of the genera Sistrurus or Crotalus distinguished by the characteristic rattle on the end of the tail.
McGraw-Hill Dictionary of Scientific & Technical Terms, 6E, Copyright © 2003 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.
venomous snake, often deadly. [Zoology: NCE, 2281]
Allusions—Cultural, Literary, Biblical, and Historical: A Thematic Dictionary. Copyright 2008 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
any of the venomous New World snakes constituting the genera Crotalus and Sistrurus, such as C. horridus (black or timber rattlesnake): family Crotalidae (pit vipers). They have a series of loose horny segments on the tail that are vibrated to produce a buzzing or whirring sound
Collins Discovery Encyclopedia, 1st edition © HarperCollins Publishers 2005