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What is a Mojave Desert Sidewinder
Below is a transcription of the above sign found at the Valley of Fire Visitor Center.
Mojave Desert Sidewinder or Horned Rattlesnake – Crotalus cerates
Arid desert flatland with sandy washes
18 to 30 inches (45 to 75 cm) long; prominent triangular projection over each eye termed its “horn” giving common name to the snake.
Color harmonizes with its habitat; may be pale yellow to pink or gray.
Small blotches along back; rough scales, terminal rattle.
Lizards, small rodents, especially mice and kangaroo rats.
Stuns food with poison, then swallows head first.
Southern Nevada and southern California, extreme southwestern Utah south into Mexico, from below sea level to 5000 ft (600 m).
ADAPTATION FOR SURVIVAL
“Sidewinding” movement uses friction to gain traction on soft sand, prevents overheating by reducing body contact with hot sand.
“Horns” are specialized scales which cover eyes to protect against obstacles when hunting rodents in burrows, and from drifting sand in habitat.
Burrows beneath blow sand.
Frequent wind-blown sand piled around desert shrubs, especially creosote bush scrub and mesquite.
In Valley of Fire, often if found curled up out of sun in holes in sandstone outcroppings.
Hikers should be cautious when climbing rock outcroppings and walking across blow and deposits.
Sidewinders may be hiding in the sand but not visible on the surface.