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Facts about snakes in California

It is not uncommon to encounter snakes while in the outdoors. What is uncommon is for people to react to the presence of a snake with calm. Most people fear snakes because they do not understand them or their importance in the natural world. While several species are potentially dangerous to humans, most are harmless creatures that form vital links in their ecosystems as highly efficient predators of rodents. Common sense is the best protection against dangerous species when afield: watch where you place your hands, where you place your feet, and where you sit. If you find a snake LEAVE IT ALONE! Purchase a field guide for identification of the various species. Enjoy the outdoors by learning more about these fascinating animals.

Mojave Rattlesnake

The Mojave rattlesnake, Crotalus scutulatus, is the most dangerous snake in the United States. California specimens possess highly neurotoxic venom. Photo by Kathie Meyer.

Snake Facts

Southern Pacific Rattlesnake

The southern Pacific rattlesnake (Crotalus viridis helleri) is frequently found in coastal and mountain habitats in southern California. Other forms of this species range from Canada to Mexico and to western Iowa. Photo by Kathie Meyer.

Venom facts for rattlesnakes found in California

For additional information see Ernst, C.H. 1992. Venomous reptiles of North America. Smithsonian Institution Press, Washington, D. C.