Oregon is home to at least 15 different species of snakes, but only two of them are considered dangerous to humans: the Western rattlesnake and the Northern Pacific rattlesnake. Rattlesnakes are the only dangerously venomous reptiles in Oregon, and they are found in a variety of habitats, from deserts and chaparral to open forests across the state.
If you come across a snake in Oregon, you can tell it’s a rattlesnake if it has a triangular-shaped head, thin vertical pupils, and of course, a rattle at the end of its tail. Although rattlesnakes are venomous, they are non-aggressive and do not attack unless provoked. These snakes are essential to the ecosystems in Oregon, as they help to keep rodent populations in check.
In this article, we will focus on the two types of rattlesnakes found in Oregon, the Western rattlesnake and the Northern Pacific rattlesnake, and provide more information about their characteristics and habitats.
2 Types Of Rattlesnakes In Oregon
Northern Pacific rattlesnake (Crotalus oreganus oreganus)
The Northern Pacific rattlesnake (Crotalus oreganus oreganus) is a venomous pit viper species found in western North America from the Baja California Peninsula to the southern interior of British Columbia. Here are some characteristics of the Northern Pacific rattlesnake:
– They are medium-sized snakes that are usually around 36 inches long.
– Most are greenish brown or greenish gray with many dark brown blotches, each surrounded by a lighter color, along their back.
– Like all rattlesnakes, they have a flat triangular head and a rattle at the end of their tail.
– They inhabit rocky hillsides, talus slopes and outcrops, rocky stream courses, rocky areas in grasslands, mixed woodlands, montane forests, pinyon juniper, and other habitats.
– They are one of the larger subspecies, reaching up to 64 inches (162.6 cm) .
– In terms of coloration, they tend to be light tan or brown with dark brown spots and have dark brown on top of their head.
– Their diet consists primarily of mammals and birds as adults and lizards, shrews, and newborn rodents as juveniles.
– The mean litter size of this rattlesnake is 5.5 with larger females having more babies born at a time.
It’s important to note that although the Northern Pacific rattlesnake is venomous, it is non-aggressive and does not attack unless provoked.
Great Basin rattlesnake (Crotalus oreganus lutosus)
The Great Basin rattlesnake (Crotalus oreganus lutosus) is a venomous pit viper species found in the Great Basin region of the United States, including parts of Oregon, California, Nevada, Utah, Idaho, and Arizona. Here are some characteristics of the Great Basin rattlesnake:
– They are medium-sized snakes that can grow up to 48 inches in length.
– They are distinctly blotched, typically with a banded tail before the rattle.
– They are often confused with the Gopher Snake, which has a much skinnier body and lacks the wide head and narrow neck of the Great Basin Rattlesnake.
– They are found in a variety of habitats, including grassy, shrubby, and rocky areas, cold desert shrubland and sagebrush, desert washes, and pinyon juniper forests.
– They are found throughout all of Northern Nevada and into parts of Southern Nevada.
– They are ambush predators and will sit and wait for their preferred prey to come across their path before making the move to strike.
– Their preferred prey includes birds, lizards, other snakes, and small mammals.
– They are one of the few species known to eat eggs.
– Like other rattlesnakes, the Great Basin rattlesnake gives birth to live young.
– They will have between 4 and 12 in their litter.
– Once the snakes are born, they will not receive any parental care.
– The Great Basin rattlesnake is classified as Least Concern by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN).
– It is unprotected by the state of Oregon and has no federal conservation status.
It’s important to note that although the Great Basin rattlesnake is venomous, it is non-aggressive and does not attack unless provoked.
1. How many types of rattlesnakes are there in Oregon?
There are two types of rattlesnakes in Oregon: the Western rattlesnake and the Northern Pacific rattlesnake.
2. Are rattlesnakes dangerous?
Yes, rattlesnakes are venomous and can be dangerous to humans. However, they are non-aggressive and do not attack unless provoked.
3. What should I do if I encounter a rattlesnake?
If you encounter a rattlesnake, give it plenty of space and do not try to handle or approach it. If you are hiking, stay on the trail and keep an eye out for snakes. If you are bitten by a rattlesnake, seek medical attention immediately.
4. What do rattlesnakes eat?
Rattlesnakes primarily eat small mammals, such as mice, gophers, squirrels, and rabbits. They may also eat birds, lizards, and amphibians.
5. Where do rattlesnakes live in Oregon?
Rattlesnakes are found in a variety of habitats in Oregon, including deserts, chaparral, open forests, and rocky areas. The Western rattlesnake tends to inhabit the eastern half of the state, while the Northern Pacific rattlesnake lives in western and central northeastern Oregon.
6. Are rattlesnakes protected in Oregon?
Rattlesnakes are not protected by the state of Oregon, but they are an important part of the ecosystem and should be treated with respect.