A Guide to the Amphibians
and Reptiles of California

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Sidewinders found in California

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Venomous and Potentially Dangerous!
Sidewinders are small, dangerously-venomous rattlesnakes which inhabit flat open sandy areas in
the southern deserts. Most often found in very sandy areas, they are sometimes found in rocky areas.
They are commonly seen on desert roads at night, but they are also active during the day.
They can be identified by their small size, faint blotched pattern, and horns over the eyes.
Two subspecies occur in California. They can be distinguished by range and by the color at the base of the tail.

Mojave Desert Sidewinder - Crotalus cerastes cerastes  
Horns over eyes

Tail has brown coloring at base of rattle
Colorado Desert Sidewinder - Crotalus cerastes laterorepens  
Colorado Desert Sidewinder Colorado Desert Sidewinder
Horns over eyes

Tail has black coloring at base of rattle

Red: Crotalus cerastes cerastes -
 Mohave Desert Sidewinder

Orange: Crotalus cerastes laterorepens -
 Colorado Desert Sidewinder

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