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Snakes in Nevada


Mojave Green Rattlesnake (Crotalus scutulatus scutulatus) was found at Red Rock Canyon hiking trail in Las Vegas, NV.

Snakes in Nevada

Along with scorpions, lizards, and other heat-loving animals, you will find snakes in Nevada too.

A majority of the snakes found in the Las Vegas area and in Nevada are non-venomous but the ones that are venomous, pack an extremely powerful venom punch.

The venomous snakes are often seen in Red Rock Canyon and Lake Mead National Recreation Area and are NOT found at Mt. Charleston.

While a lot of people are focused on crossing paths with a rattlesnake while hiking, the Banded Gila Monster is just as dangerous and is seen at Red Rock Canyon and surrounding areas.

When you are on the trail you may hear the rattle of a rattlesnake before you see it but note that if it’s a baby rattlesnake you may not hear its rattler. Also, not all rattles on adult snakes can be heard.

Of course, when I wanted to find a snake to take photos for this article, I didn’t bump into any while on the hiking trails at Valley of Fire, Lake Mead, or Red Rock Canyon in Las Vegas. Some of the photos used in this article are from a fellow hiker using her phone so the quality isn’t that good as they were taken far away and then cropped close to see the snakes.

The snake scene heightens from April through October months and most snakes are “active” when the temperatures are between 70 – 90 degrees. 

Tip, if you are hiking during the time when snakes do like to make their presence, use hiking poles. 

Click here to view more Nevada wildlife you may encounter on the hiking trails or off the hiking trails in the Southwest.

Other links about snakes in the Southwest:

  1. Classification of Reptiles
  2. Snakes of the Southwest
  3. Snakes Found in Arizona
  4. Snakes Found in New Mexico
  5. Snakes Found in Utah

From the Nevada Department of Wildlife:

Approximately 52 species of snakes and lizards share the Nevada landscape with us. Of these, only 12 are considered venomous. Only 6 can be dangerous to people and pets. Encountering them is uncommon because of their body camouflage and secretive nature, which are their first defenses in evading predators. Consider yourself fortunate if you do see one! As with all wildlife, treat venomous reptiles with respect.

Reptiles are ectothermic, meaning their body temperature increases or decreases in response to the surrounding environment. They are most active in the spring, summer, and early fall when it’s comfortable, short sleeve weather for us. Reptiles usually hibernate or brumate, in winter in response to colder temperatures. During high summer temperatures in the Mojave Desert, reptiles may spend time underground in order to maintain vital body temperatures.

Venomous vs Poisonous

The old adage to keep in mind, If you bite it and you die, it’s poisonous. If it bites you and you die, it’s venomous.

From Britannica:

According to biologists, the term venomous is applied to organisms that bite (or sting) to inject their toxins, whereas the term poisonous applies to organisms that unload toxins when you eat them. This means that very few snakes are truly poisonous. The vast majority of snake toxins are transferred by bite. One exception is the garter snake (Thamnophis), which is small and harmless in terms of its bite but is toxic to eat because its body absorbs and stores the toxins of its prey (newts and salamanders).


Venomous Snakes in Nevada

According to the Nevada Department of Wildlife state that there are six species in the Viperidae family (pit vipers) that are dangerous to humans and pets and I have found references that there may be others in our area. (The University of Nevada at Reno lists twelve with five being dangerous to people and pets.)

Below are the venomous snakes found in the state of Nevada.

Mojave Rattlesnake (Crotalus scutulatus)

  • Mojave Green Rattlesnake (Crotalus scutulatus scutulatus) Found mostly in the open desert terrain and mountains such as the Lake Mead and Eldorado Valley area, the Mojave Green Rattlesnake is the least common rattlesnake. This greenish to olive-green with diamond-shaped blotches along its back and ranges from two to three feet in length, this rattlesnake is the most toxic. Click here to read more about the Mojave Green Rattlesnake.

Panamint Rattlesnake (Crotalus stephensi)

The Panamint Rattlesnake is similar to the Southwestern, but it has a more distinct pattern to its blotches along its back. The Panamint Rattlesnake is found in the extreme western and northwestern areas of Clark County.

Sidewinder (Crotalus cerastes)

  • Mojave Desert Sidewinder (Crotalus cerastes cerastes)  is one of the smallest rattlesnake species with the average length being only one to two feet. The Mojave Desert Sidewinder has a series of darker blotches along its back and has a horned-like scale above each eye.  Because of this, it has been occasionally called the horned rattlesnake.

Southwestern Speckled Rattlesnake (Crotalus pyrrhus)

Speckled Rattlesnake (Crotalus mitchellii

The Speckled Rattlesnake is the most common rattlesnake in Clark County, NV area and is usually found in foothills, low mountains, open desert, and rocky washes. It can grow to two to three feet long with a pattern of indistinct blotches on its back and sides. Its color varies from tan, gray, pink, or reddish tones.

Western Diamondback Rattlesnake (Crotalus atrox)

The Western Diamondback Rattlesnake is found only in extreme southern Clark County and is rarely encountered by residents.  The Western Diamondback Rattlesnake is the largest of our native species with a potential length of more than four feet.  It looks similar to the Mojave Green only with a series of distinct diamond-shaped blotches and lacks the green color of the Mojave.

Western Rattlesnake (Crotalus oreganus)

Other venomous snakes found in Nevada

  • Desert Night Snake (Hypsiglena chlorophaea) – mildly venomous
  • Grand Canyon Rattlesnake (Crotalus abyssus)
  • Southwestern Black-headed Snake (Tantilla hobartsmithi)

Snakes in Las Vegas

This article covers all the snakes found in Nevada but we have had multiple emails asking which are specifically found in Las Vegas and the surrounding area. Below is the list of the snakes in Las Vegas and surrounding area.

Venomous Snakes in Las Vegas

  • Grand Canyon Rattlesnake (Crotalus abyssus)
  • Western Rattlesnake (Crotalus oreganus)
    • Midget Faded Rattlesnake (Crotalus oreganus concolor)
    • Great Basin Rattlesnake (Crotalus oreganus lutosus)
  • Mojave Rattlesnake (Crotalus scutulatus)
      • Mojave Green Rattlesnake (Crotalus scutulatus scutulatus)
  • Panamint Rattlesnake (Crotalus stephensi)
  • Sidewinder (Crotalus cerastes)
    • Mojave Desert Sidewinder (Crotalus cerastes cerastes)
  • Southwestern Speckled Rattlesnake (Crotalus pyrrhus)
  • Speckled Rattlesnakes (Crotalus mitchellii)
  • Western Diamond-backed Rattlesnake (Crotalus atrox)

Non-Venomous Snakes in Las Vegas

  • California Kingsnake (Lampropeltis california)
  • California Lyresnake (Trimorphodon lyrophanes)
  • Coachwhip (Coluber flagellum)
  • Common Kingsnake (Lampropeltis getula)
  • Desert Nightsnake (Hypsiglena chlorophaea)
  • Glossy Snake (Arizona elegans)
    • Desert Glossy Snake (Arizona elegans eburnata)
  • Gopher Snake (Pituophis catenifer)
    • Great Basin Gopher Snake (Pituophis catenifer deserticola)
  • Long-Nosed Snake (Rhinocheilus lecontei)
  • Mojave Patch-nosed Snake (Salvadora hexalepis mojavensis)
  • Mojave Shovel-nosed Snake (Chionactis occipitalis occipitalis)
  • Nevada Shovel-nosed Snake (Chionactis occipitalis talpina)
  • Red Racer (Coluber flagellum piceus)
  • Ringneck Snake (Diadophis punctatus)
    • Regal Ringneck Snake (Diadophis punctatus regalis)
  • Smith’s Black-headed Snake (Tantilla hobartsmithi)
  • Sonoran Lyresnake (Trimorphodon lambda)
  • Sonoran Mountain Kingsnake (Lampropeltis pyromelana)
    • Arizona Mountain Kingsnake (Lampropeltis pyromelana pyromelana)
  • Spotted Leaf-nosed Snake (Phyllorhynchus decurtatus)
    • Western Leaf-nosed Snake (Phyllorhynchus decurtatus perkinsi)
  • Striped Whipsnake (Masticophis taeniatus)
  • Wandering Gartersnake (Thamnophus elegans vagrans)
  • Western Groundsnake (Sonora semiannulata)
  • Western Patch-Nosed Snake (Salvadora hexalepis)
  • Western Shovelnose Snake (Chionactis occipitalis)
  • Western Terrestrial Gartersnake (Thamnophus elegans)
  • Western Threadsnake (Rena humilis)
  • Western Yellow-Bellied Racer (Coluber mormon)

List of Snakes in Nevada

Below you will find the articles we have written on the venomous and non-venomous snakes found in Nevada.

If you scroll past our articles, you will find a table that shows the snakes found in Nevada with their common name and classification.

Also, we have notated V for venomous and NV for non-venomous snakes that link to the articles that we have written on the snakes in Nevada.

Below is a sortable table of the snakes found in Nevada

Glossy SnakeNVColubridaeArizonaA. elegans
Desert Glossy SnakeNVColubridaeArizonaA. elegans eburnata
Nevada Shovel-nosed SnakeNVColubridaeChionactisC. occipitalis talpina
Mojave Shovel-nosed SnakeNVColubridaeChionactisC. occipitalis
Western Yellow-Bellied RacerNVColubridaeColuberC. Constrictor
Regal Ringneck SnakeNVColubridaeDiadophisD. p. regalis
Ringneck SnakeNVColubridaeDiadophisD. Punctatus
Desert Night SnakeVColubridaeHypsiglenaH. c. deserticola
Common KingsnakeNVColubridaeLampropeltisL. getula
California KingsnakeNVColubridaeLampropeltisL. californiae
Utah Mountain KingsnakeNVColubridaeLampropeltisL. p. infralabialis
Arizona Mountain KingsnakeNVColubridaeLampropeltisL. pyromelana
Red RacerNVColubridaeMasticophisM. flagellum piceus
CoachwhipNVColubridaeMasticophisM. flagellum
Striped WhipsnakeNVColubridaeMasticophisM. taeniatus
Spotted Leafnose SnakeNVColubridaePhyllorhynchusP. decurtatus
Great Basin Gopher SnakeNVColubridaePituophisP. catenifer deserticola
Gopher SnakeNVColubridaePituophis
Long-Nosed SnakeNVColubridaeRhinocheilusR. lecontei
Western Patch-Nosed SnakeNVColubridaeSalvadoraS. hexalepis
Mojave Patch-nosed SnakeNVColubridaeSalvadoraS. hexalepis mojavensis
Western Shovelnose SnakeNVColubridaeSonoraS. occipatlis
Western Ground SnakeNVColubridaeSonoraS. semiannulata
Southwestern Black-headed SnakeVColubridaeTantillaT. hobartsmithi
Western Terrestrial Garter SnakeNVColubridaeThamnophusT. elegans
Wandering Garter SnakeNVColubridaeThamnophusT. elegans vagrans
Sonoran LyresnakeNVColubridaeTrimorphodonT. lambda
Baja California LyresnakeNVColubridaeTrimorphodonT. lyrophanes
Western ThreadsnakeNVLeptotyphlopidaeRenaR. humilis
SidewinderVViperidaeCrotalusC. cerastes
Mojave Desert SidewinderVViperidaeCrotalusC. cerastes cerastes
Midget Faded RattlesnakeVViperidaeCrotalusC. concolor
Great Basin RattlesnakeVViperidaeCrotalusC. lutosus
Speckled RattlesnakeVViperidaeCrotalusC. mitchellii
Southwestern Speckled RattlesnakeVViperidaeCrotalusC. mitchellii pyrrhus
Panamint RattlesnakeVViperidaeCrotalusC. mitchellii stephensi
Grand Canyon RattlesnakeVViperidaeCrotalusC. oreganus abyssus
Western Diamond-backed RattlesnakeVViperidaeCrotalusC. oreganus atrox
Mojave Green RattlesnakeVViperidaeCrotalusC. scutulatus

Illegal Snakes

Most poisonous and large constrictor snakes are legal in the state but may be illegal in some counties as well as the city of Las Vegas. Henderson and Clark Counties are typically local areas that prohibit these species.

If you live in the city of Las Vegas, you will need a Wild Animal Permit in order to collect or possess any snakes that are either venomous or over eight feet long.

You also cannot import any indigenous species without a permit.

The following species are illegal to import or possess in the state of Nevada:

  • Australian elapids
  • Coral snakes
  • Cobras
  • all Elapidae family, except ones in the subspecies Hydrophiinae
  • Kraits
  • Mambas
  • Pit vipers not indigenous to the state
  • True vipers not indigenous to the state
  • All Viperidae in the family are not indigenous to the state

Protected Snakes

Rattlesnakes are not protected by the state of Nevada, along with all other species. According to the Nevada Fish and Wildlife Office, the only protected snake species of the state include the Sonoran Mountain Kingsnakes and the Rosy Boa due to destructive commercial transactions.

rattlesnake-at-red-rockA baby rattlesnake “welcoming” hikers into a slot at Red Rock.

A graphic from the Nevada Department of Wildlife is listed in the reference list below


Snake Bite Treatment

First aid information from the Nevada Department of Wildlife (which they reference What’s the Buzz About Nevada’s Venomous Reptiles? (1998))

  • The primary goal is to seek emergency medical treatment immediately. If you believe you have been bitten by a venomous reptile do not wait for symptoms to show.
  • Immobilize the victim and keep the wound below heart level. Gravity can quicken the spread of the venom if the wound is above the heart.
  • Do not use a tourniquet, cut and suction, electro-shock, or put ice on the wound.
  • Calm the victim. A rapid pulse from panic or anxiety circulates venom more quickly.
  • Watch the victim for any unusual reactions.
  • Remove all jewelry in anticipation of swelling.
  • Identify the snake if possible. This helps the caregiver give the correct medical treatment.
  • Transport the victim to a medical facility immediately. If it is necessary to walk, do so slowly and rest frequently.
  • Remember that a venomous bite does not mean certain death: annually only 1/10 of 1 percent of venomous bites result in death nationwide. Timely medical treatment simplifies recovery. This also applies to pets.

References Used for Snakes in Nevada

Snakes in Nevada