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Prairie Rattlesnakes in the Rocky Flats Wildlife Refuge

The prairie rattlesnake is one of the many species of animals that inhabit the Rocky Flats National Wildlife Refuge. It is also known as western rattlesnake and great plains rattlesnake.

This snake is found across North America in areas including the great plains, the Rocky Mountains, southwestern Canada, and northern Mexico. It typically grows to about 3.3 feet in length with the largest ever recorded at 4.97 feet. It is usually lightly colored in hues of brown with a distinctive triangle shaped head and pit sensory organs on either side of its head.

Prairie rattlesnakes typically occupy rocky areas with outcrops serving as den sites. They have also been known to occupy the burrows of other animals. The prairie rattlesnake prefers is stay in low grassland but can sometimes even climb bushes and trees. They are typically active in cooler weather and are nocturnal in warmer weather.

This species is fairly high up in the predatory chain and preys on birds and mammals like squirrels, mice, rabbits and prairie dogs. Its powerful venom makes the prairie rattlesnake an effective predator. It delivers between 20 and 55 percent of its venom in just one bite! Of course, these critters will rapidly vibrate their tails to produce a rattling sound to warn others.

Learn more about the wildlife at the Rocky Flats Wildlife Refuge here!

Photo courtesy of Steve Thompson.