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Mexican Lance-headed Rattlesnake Fact Sheet

  • Latin Name

    Crotalus polystictus
  • Class

    Reptiles
  • Order

    Serpentes
  • Range

    Central Mexico plateau
  • Status

    The species is common, but its population is declining and becoming more fragmented due to habitat loss generally caused by land converted for agricultural use.
  • Habitat

    Mexican lance-headed rattlesnakes favor broad valleys, rolling plains and grassy meadows. They can also be found in pine/oak forests, mesquite-grassland areas and rocky outcrops or even old lava flows.
  • Niche

    Their diet mainly consists of amphibians and other reptiles, but they also eat insects and small mammals.
  • Life History

    The snakes mate in the spring, with females giving birth to live offspring during the fall. The snakes’ reproductive cycles usually correspond with the rainy season in the species’ native range.
  • Special Adaptations

    • Although there are not many recorded bite incidents, the snakes’ fairly large venom yield and long fangs make them quite dangerous.
    • A 2003–2007 study involving 190 individuals showed that females ingest about 11 percent of their postpartum mass (in particular eggs and dead offspring) in order to recover energy for subsequent reproduction. This adaptation means a female that’s just given birth doesn’t have to hunt for food—a dangerous activity that requires time and expends a great deal of energy.

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2001 North Clark Street • Chicago, IL 60614 • 312-742-2000

2001 North Clark Street • Chicago, IL 60614 Get Map/Directions Call 312-742-2000