Crotalus exsul = (Crotalus ruber)
Previously recognized as a subspecies of Crotalus ruber: Crotalus ruber ruber. Some taxonomists regard this snake as a subspecies of Crotalus exsul labelling it Crotalus exsul ruber.
The Red Diamond Rattlesnake is one of the largest rattlers in the region. The longest on record measures a little over 5 feet, but most individuals are in the 2 1/2 to 3 1/2 foot range.
Its coloration sets it apart from other rattlesnake species in our area, and makes it easy to recognize. The body is a reddish or tan color with a light edged diamond pattern on its back. A black and white ringed tail finishes the effect. The young start their lives gray, and become redder as they mature. Some individuals from the inland valleys develop a striking brick red color. The Red Diamond Rattlesnake's size and beauty make it a very impressive animal, especially when seen in the wild.
Range and Habitat
This rattler ranges through Southern California from San Bernardino County to Cabo San Lucas, Baja California Sur. In the northern part of its range the Red Diamond occupies environments from the coast to the desert slopes of the mountains, but avoids the lower desert flats and elevations above 5,000 feet. In Baja California it inhabits most of the peninsula from the Pacific to the Gulf of California, including some of the gulf islands.
The Red Diamond is more commonly found in areas of rock and brush than in grasslands or cultivated areas.
There have been no proposed conservation plans. Because of widespread negative attitudes towards snakes, very few conservation programs, worldwide, have been created. A much higher percentage of snakes are threatened with extinction than is currently recognized. Therefore, snakes are particularly suspectible to being overlooked by conservation-minded biologists.
The venom of this snake is hemotoxic and potentially dangerous to humans.
Primarily nocturnal and crepuscular during periods of excessive daytime heat, but also active during daylight when the temperature is more moderate or when in the comparatively cooler shaded areas of boulder fields. Not active during cooler periods in Winter. Terrestrial, but may partially climb shrubs or trees.
Prey is found when actively moving, or by ambush, where the snake waits near lizard or rodent trails, striking at and releasing passing prey. The snake then follows the trail of the envenomated animal and swallows it whole.
When alarmed, a rattlesnake shakes its tail back and forth. The movement rubs the rattle segments together producing a buzzing sound which serves as a warning. Juveniles are born with only a silent button at the end of the tail.