Western (Northern Pacific) Rattlesnake
Crotalus oreganus oreganus
The only venomous snake in BC. Rattlesnakes are between 1 and 3 feet long and have thick green-grey to red-brown bodies with dark circles along its back that become stripes at the tail. The circles have lighter "halos" around their edges. The head is large and triangular with "hoods" over the eyes. The Rattlesnake is the only snake in BC with a rattle or small button at the end of its tail.
In spring and summer, rattlesnakes live in a variety of open habitats, including grasslands, dry open forest, edges of cultivated fields, shrubby areas, talus. In very hot weather, they may be found near shoreline areas. In winter, rattlesnakes hibernate deep within rocky caves and crevices in talus (rocky) slopes and cliffs.
Range in BC includes much of the warm, dry Southern Interior, including the grassland valleys of the Thompson and Okanagan rivers; the Similkameen River Valley; from the international boundary to Hedley; and Kettle River Valley from Rock Creek to Midway.
-Habitat loss and degradation from agricultural and urban development, livestock grazing, and forestry
-Reduction of prey from trapping, shooting, and poisoning
-Extremely high mortality from vehicles and roads
-Mortality from agricultural and industrial machinery
-Human fear and persecution of snakes (though venomous, this rattlesnake species is quite timid and only bites if highly provoked)
You Can Help!
Protect natural grassland, forest, shrub-steppe, and rugged rock habitats
Slow down and watch for snakes on all roads
Educate others; rattlesnakes are still heavily persecuted, despite their critical role in the ecosystem
Use and support snake-friendly farming practices
Learn how to be Snake Smart at work and at home