Rattlesnakes have a deadly reputation, but only strike humans if cornered or threatened. They are more likely to flee than attack. None but the bravest predators should ignore the vibrating rattle, as these snakes can inject a venom that stuns and even kills. Small mammals should be particulary wary as they will be caught with precision, swallowed whole and digested. The 30 or so species in this fascinating group are found only in the Americas. If you can identify all the different skin patterns and colours then you are probably too close for comfort...
Scientific name: Crotalus
The shading illustrates the diversity of this group - the darker the colour the greater the number of species. Data provided by WWF's Wildfinder.
Discover what these behaviours are and how different plants and animals use them.
Additional data source: Animal Diversity Web
Crotalus is a genus of venomous pit vipers found only in the Americas from southern Canada to northern Argentina. The name is derived from the Greek word krotalon, which means "rattle" or "castanet", and refers to the rattle on the end of the tail which makes this group (genera Crotalus and Sistrurus) so distinctive. 32 species are currently recognized.
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