Western Rattlesnake


Last COSEWIC designation: May 2004
SARA risk category: Threatened

Description: One of BC’s largest snakes; adults are from 60 to 150 cm in length. Background colour is brown, tan, olive or grey, overlaid by large dark-brown blotches along the back and smaller blotches along the sides. The under-parts are usually yellowish-white. The end of the tail has a rattle-like structure that gives this snake its name.

Habitat: Restricted to habitats characterized by bluebunch wheatgrass grasslands and open Douglas-fir and ponderosa pine parklands. The warmest and driest portions of the province in summer.

Threats: Many of the warm southern valleys have become heavily settled. Farms, subdivisions, highways, and other developments have destroyed some rattlesnake dens and foraging areas, and many snakes are killed by highway traffic. These treats will become more serious as land development and human populations increase. Due to predation they have a low annual survivorship, combined with a low rate of reproduction means that populations can increase only slowly in size.