Pacific Northwest
Reptiles & Amphibians

Northern Pacific Rattlesnake - Crotalus oreganus oreganus

Holbrook, 1840

(= Crotalus viridis oreganus & = Crotalus oreganus)

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Adult, Okanagan County, Washington Adult, Kittitas County, Washington
© Jeremiah Easter
Adult, Klickitat County, Washington Adult, Kittitas County, Washington
© Jeremiah Easter
  Adult, Grant County, Washington
© Jeremiah Easter

Habitat, Yakima County, Washington Habitat, Okanagan County, Washington Habitat, Klickitat County, Washington
Habitat, Grant County, Washington Habitat, Kittitas County, Washington Habitat, Kittitas County, Washington
Sign at a Washington State Park
Sounds and Videos
This is an 8 second recording of the rattling of a Northern Pacific Rattlesnake, Crotalus oreganus oreganus, shown above in Klickitat County, Washington.

A Northern Pacific Rattlesnake rattles its tail in northern California. A Northern Pacific Rattlesnake crossed a mountain road on a windy spring morning in Contra Costa County then coiled defensively at the edge of the road. Concerned with my presence a few yards away, it is seen here sensing the air with its tongue and rattling its tail, then pausing to watch a bicycle speed down the road, then rattling some more.
A juvenile rattlesnake rattles and crawls off a road in the foothills of Fresno County in early Fall. The snake here is seen slowly following a snake hook with curiosity, not aggression. The hook had been used earlier to pick up a breeding pair of snakes, and we decided that this one was probably a male that smelled the scent of the breeding female on the hook. Most rattlesnakes will do exactly what this one did when I encountered it in the late afternoon on a mountain road - turn and crawl quickly away, with a little rattling thrown in as a warning.  Rattlesnakes are often depicted in fiction as aggressors, leaping and striking viciously, often for no reason other than to give the hero an excuse to kill it to prove himself. The truth is that rattlesnakes are almost always defensive, not offensive, when they encounter humans, wanting nothing more than to escape, and the least heroic thing someone can do is to automatically kill them.
This video begins with a squirrel's high-pitched alarm call coming from a large group of shrubs in the Sierra Nevada mountains. When I got closer the squirrel ran away and I saw this rattlesnake climbing down a branch then farther back into the bushes. Later, after the camera batteries died, the snake returned and crawled outside the shrubs while the squirrel called and ran around outside the bushes near the snake, but outside of its striking range. A Northern Pacific Rattlesnake in the Sierra Nevada mountains crawls into a crack and shakes its tail.  
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