Panamint Rattlesnake (Crotalus mitchellii stephensi)

Crotalus stephensi is a venomous pitviper species found in central and southern Nevada and adjacent California. Common names include panamint rattlesnake, panamint rattler, Owens Valley rattler, and tiger rattlesnake (not to be confused with C. tigris).


The specific name, stephensi, is in honor of Frank Stephens, curator emeritus of the San Diego Society of Natural History.


Adults are 58 to 132 cm (23 to 52 in) long, with an average of 60 to 91 cm (24 to 36 in).

According to Klauber (1936), this species is characterized by the absence of the vertical light line on the posterior edge of the prenasal and first supralabial scales. The supraocular scales are pitted, sutured, or with the outer edges broken.

The color pattern consists of a straw, tan, buff, brown, or gray ground color, overlaid with a series of buff, gray, brown, or deep red-brown blotches. Often, gray suffusions occur on the sides of the body and head, and a scattering of black-tipped scales occur on the back, especially at the edges of the blotches.

Geographic range

This species is found in desert-mountain areas of the eastern slopes of the Sierra Nevada from Mono County, California, east to Nye County, Nevada, south through southwestern Nevada, southeast to Clark County, Nevada, and southwest to central San Bernardino County, California at 900 to 2,400 m (3,000 to 7,900 ft) altitude.


The diet consists of small mammals, lizards, and birds.


These snakes are ovoviviparous and the young are born in July and August. Neonates are about 25 cm in length.


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About the author

Jim Mattern

Jim is a scapegoat for the NPS, an author, adventurer, photographer, radio personality, guide, and location scout. His interests lie in Native American and cultural sites, ghost towns, mines, and natural wonders in the American Deserts.