Speckled Rattlesnake (Crotalus mitchellii)

Common names: speckled rattlesnake, Mitchell’s rattlesnake, white rattlesnake

Crotalus mitchellii is a venomous pit viper species found in the Southwestern United States and northern Mexico. It was named in honor of Silas Weir Mitchell (1829–1914), a medical doctor who also studied rattlesnake venoms. Five subspecies are currently recognized.


Generally, this species does not exceed 100 cm (39 in) in length, with large males measuring between 90 and 100 cm (35 and 39 in). The race on Isla Ángel de la Guarda is known to become larger, the maximum recorded length for a specimen there being 136.7 cm (53.8 in). In contrast, the population on El Muerto Island only reaches a maximum of 63.7 cm (25.1 in) in length.


Geographic range

This species is found in the southwestern United States and in northwestern Mexico. In the US, its range includes east-central and southern California, southwestern Nevada, extreme southwestern Utah, and western Arizona. In Mexico, it is native in most of Baja California, including Baja California Sur. It also inhabits a number of islands in the Gulf of California, including Angel de la Guarda Island, Carmen, Cerralvo, El Muerto, Espíritu Santo, Monserrate, Piojo, Salsipuedes, and San José, as well as on Santa Margarita Island off the Pacific coast of Baja California Sur.

The type locality is listed as “Cape St. Lucas, Lower California” (Cabo San Lucas, Baja California Sur, Mexico).

Conservation status

The nominate subspecies (C. m. mitchellii) is classified as “Least Concern” on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. The population trend was stable when assessed in 2007. Species are listed as such due to their wide distribution, presumed large population, or because they are unlikely to be declining fast enough to qualify for listing in a more threatened category.



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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.