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Crotalus viridis RAFINESQUE, 1818

IUCN Red List - Crotalus viridis - Least Concern, LC

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Higher TaxaViperidae, Crotalinae, Colubroidea, Caenophidia, Alethinophidia, Serpentes, Squamata (snakes)
Common NamesE: viridis: Western Rattlesnake, Prairie Rattlesnake
E: nuntius: Hopi Rattlesnake
G: Prärie-Klapperschlange
G: nuntius: Hopi-Klapperschlange
S: Serpiente de Cascabel de la Pradera 
SynonymCrotalus viridis viridis (RAFINESQUE 1818)
Crotalinus viridis RAFINESQUE 1818
Crotalus lecontei HALLOWELL 1852
Crotalus confluentus nuntius KLAUBER 1935
Crotalus viridis nuntius — KLAUBER 1936
Crotalus viridis viridis — KLAUBER 1936
Crotalus viridis viridis — KLAUBER 1952: 103
Crotalus viridis viridis — STEBBINS 1985: 231
Crotalus viridis nuntius — STEBBINS 1985: 232
Crotalus viridis viridis — LINER 1994
Crotalus viridis viridis — CONANT & COLLINS 1991: 236
Crotalus viridis — MCDIARMID, CAMPBELL & TOURÉ 1999: 297
Crotalus viridis viridis — TENNANT & BARTLETT 2000: 529
Crotalus viridis nuntius — CROTHER 2000: 60
Crotalus viridis nuntius — ASHTON et al. 2001
Crotalus viridis viridis — ASHTON et al. 2001
Crotalus viridis viridis — CAMPBELL & LAMAR 2004
Crotalus viridis nuntius — CAMPBELL & LAMAR 2004
Crotalus viridis — BEAMAN & HAYES 2008
Crotalus viridis — HOSER 2009
Crotalus viridis — CROTHER et al. 2012
Crotalus viridis — WALLACH et al. 2014: 196
Crotalus viridis nuntius — LILLYWHITE 2014: 23
Crotalus viridis — DAVIS et al. 2016 
DistributionSW Canada (incl. Alberta, Saskatchewan), W USA (Washington, California, Oregon, Montana, South Dakota, Nebraska, New Mexico, Texas),
Mexico (Baja California Norte, N Chihuahua, NW Coahuila)

viridis: the Great Plains (Oklahoma, NW Texas, New Mexico) to the Rocky Mountains and from S Canada to Mexico (N Sonora, N Chihuahua, N Coahuila); Type locality: “Upper Missouri”. Restricted to “the prairies between the Cannonball and Heart rivers, within 40 km of the Missouri River in North Dakota” a location far distant from the previous restriction of the type locality to ‘‘vicinity of Kansas City, Missouri’’ (Schmidt 1953: 226).

nuntius: NE Arizona  
TypesType: lost (fide HOLYCROSS et al. 2008)
Holotype: SDNHM = SDSNH 3105 [nuntius]
Holotype: USNM 4233 [Crotalus lecontei] 
CommentSynonymy: Douglas et al. (2002) and Davis et al. 2016 synonymized C. v. nuntius with C. v. viridis although some recent authors consider it as valid. Crother et al. (2012) follow Douglas et al. 2002 and do not list it as valid.

Original description: “N. Sp. Crotalinus viridis (Green Rattlesnake.) Body slender, green, with several rows of brown oblong spots above, belly white. A curious species, found also by Mr. Bradbury, in the upper Missouri. It was 2 feet long, and had 3 rattles.” (Rafinesque 1818: 41).


ASHTON et al. (2001) split C. viridis into two evolutionary species, C. viridis and C. oreganus. CROTHER (2003) and others also followed that scheme.

Nomenclature: Hoser’s 2009 classification and nomenclature has been rejected as unnecessary and unavailable by WÜSTER & BERNILS 2011. 
  • Ashton, Kyle G.; de Queiroz, Alan 2001. Molecular systematics of the Western Rattlesnake, Crotalus viridis (Viperidae), with comments on the utility of the D-Loop in phylogenetic studies of snakes. Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution 21(2):176-189. - get paper here
  • Bateman, Heather L.; Alice Chung-MacCoubrey, Howard L. Snell, and Deborah M. Finch 2009. Abundance and Species Richness of Snakes along the Middle Rio Grande Riparian Forest in New Mexico. Herp. Cons. Biol. 4: 1 - get paper here
  • Bauder, Javan M.; Holly Akenson, and Charles R. Peterson 2015. Movement Patterns of Prairie Rattlesnakes (Crotalus v. viridis) across a Mountainous Landscape in a Designated Wilderness Area. Journal of Herpetology Sep 2015, Vol. 49, No. 3: 377-387. - get paper here
  • Beaman, K.R. & Hayes, W.K. 2008. Rattlesnakes: Research Trends and Annotated Checklist. In: Hayes et al. (eds), The biology of rattlesnakes. Loma Linda University Press, pp. 5-16
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  • Chiszar, David; Adam Walters, and Hobart M Smith 2008. Rattlesnake Preference for Envenomated Prey: Species Specificity. Journal of Herpetology 42 (4): 764 - get paper here
  • Chiszar, David; Bryon K. Shipley, Hobart M. Smith, Kevin Fitzgerald and Anthony J. Saviola. 2014. Straightness-of-path during and after vernal migration in prairie rattlesnakes, Crotalus viridis, in eastern Colorado. Herpetology Notes 7: 425-436 - get paper here
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  • Davis, Mark A. and Michael E. Douglas 2017. Prairie Rattlesnake Crotalus viridis (Rafinesque 1818). In: Rattlesnakes of Arizona, Volume I, 1st Edition, Editors: Gordon W. Schuett, Martin J. Feldner, Charles F. Smith, Randall S. Reiserer. Eco Publishing, pp.289-332 - get paper here
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