Why study Mohave Rattlesnakes?

 

 

Mohave Rattlesnakes are one of the most common snakes in many desert areas of the American southwest.

 

Known to biologists by their scientific name Crotalus scutulatus and called “Mohave greens” by many desert residents, these animals are best known for their highly potent venom, which is widely considered to be one of the most toxic of any rattlesnake.

 

Mohave Rattlesnakes are well known to herpetologists (biologists who study reptiles and amphibians) but they are the subject of extraordinary numbers of myths and rumors among residents of southwestern deserts, having earned ‘urban legend’ status with the advent of the Internet.

 

When evaluated ‘drop-for-drop’ against other species in lab mice, Mohave Rattlesnake venom is one of the most lethal. Yet despite being responsible for many human bites every year, fatalities are uncommon; several other species kill more people annually. Many scientists have investigated Mohave Rattlesnake venom in the laboratory and field biologists have closely studied the natural history of other rattlesnake species but relatively little work has been done to document the natural history of wild Mohave Rattlesnakes. This study is the first long-term field study of this unique and very interesting species.

 

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