Jul 15
Santa Catalina Island rattlesnake

Santa Catalina Island rattlesnake (Crotalus catalinensis)

Species: Santa Catalina Island rattlesnake (Crotalus catalinensis)

Status: Critically Endangered (CR)

Interesting Fact: The Santa Catalina Island rattlesnake has lost its functional rattle, which is thought to be an adaption to sneak up on its prey.

The Santa Catalina Island rattlesnake occurs only on Santa Catalina Island off the coast of Mexico. It is normally found in narrow, dry creeks, as well as under rocks, on hillsides, or even in open sandy areas. Unlike many rattlesnakes, the Santa Catalina Island rattlesnake is an agile and swift climber. It feeds mainly on the Santa Catalina deer mouse (Peromyscus slevini), which it can persue through vegetation. Little is known about the Santa Catalina Island rattlesnake’s breeding biology, but males have been observed bobbing their heads and tongue flicking during courtship. The breeding season is thought to be between Spring and early Summer, with young born in late Summer to early Autumn.

Once a common species, the Santa Catalina Island rattlesnake is now highly threatened due to illegal collection and killing. In the past, predation by feral cats was a problem, but a new threat to the Santa Catalina Island rattlesnake is a decline in the population of its main food source, the Santa Catalina deer mouse. Unfortunately, as is the case for many snakes, there are few conservation programmes in place for this reptile. Although the feral cat population has now been eradicated from Santa Catalina Island, recolonisation must be prevented. The Santa Catalina Island rattlesnake population requires monitoring and restrictions need to be enforced to prohibit overcollection.

Find out more about the the Santa Catalina Island rattlesnake on the San Diego Natural History Museum website.

View images of the Santa Catalina Island rattlesnake on ARKive.

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