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What is an Arizona Black Rattlesnake (Crotalus cerberus)

What is an Arizona Black Rattlesnake


The Arizona Black Rattlesnake is a rare species of rattlesnake that has eluded researchers which makes finding extensive information on them rather tricky. While there may not be a backlog of research and data on the Arizona Black Rattlesnake, what we do know about them is actually really interesting and unique.

For starters, the Arizona Black Rattlesnake exhibits social interactions with other rattlesnakes and will seek out communities to be a part of. In fact, they are the first rattlesnake species to have been documented showing complex social behavior. Because of this cooperation and socialization, females will often birth their brood together as well as help one another with raising then newborn snakes.

Another really cool thing about the Arizona Black Rattlesnake is that it has the ability to change colors, much like a chameleon. It isn’t really well known or documented as to why they change color, but it is speculated that it could be tied to their mood, like if they’re relaxed or stressed, or based on the time of day. 

Other than that, the Arizona Black Rattlesnake is a pretty common rattlesnake in relation to its size, shape, and venom composition. Their venom, while not extremely potent, is moderately dangerous and can inflict serious damage so should you be bitten by one, seek out medical care immediately. Thankfully, Arizona Rattlesnakes are an almost docile species of rattlesnake and rarely bite people.

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Arizona Black Rattlesnake, Crotalus Oreganus Cerberus


  • Kingdom: Animalia
  • Phylum: Chordata
  • Class: Reptilia
  • Order: Squamata
  • Suborder: Serpentes
  • Family: Viperidae
  • Genus: Crotalus
  • Species: C. cerberus

Size and Body Description

Arizona Black Rattlesnakes are a medium size rattlesnakes that will have that quintessential rattlesnake shape of a nice, thick body that starts off narrow at either end and gradually grows in size the further toward the middle of the snake you get. It also has the classic spade or triangle-shaped head that all rattlesnakes have with two scales over their eyes to give it that mean look when it stares you down.

As their name would suggest, this snake as an adult is usually a brown, dark brown, or black color that can change if the snake so feels like it. While some do possess the ability to change colors, you aren’t going to be seeing purple snakes slithering around. Their color changes are lighter or darker variations of the color they’re born with. 

Arizona Black Rattlesnakes can have a rectangle or hexagonal patterns running down the length of their body that are bordered with white, yellow, or eggshell-colored scales. The inside of the pattern can be dark brown, red-brown, or black but it may be hard to see depending on the snake’s base color. Sometimes the Arizona Black Rattlesnake patterns will fade out over time making them appear to be a single solid, dark color.


Arizona Black Rattlesnakes grow on average to be about 32 to 48 inches in length.


Arizona Black Rattlesnakes will eat lizards, amphibians, the occasional bird, and small mammals like rodents or mice.


Arizona Black Rattlesnakes follow a similar breeding patter as other rattlesnakes where mating will being in the spring and carry on into the summer with live babies being born late into the summer and early fall. Female rattlesnakes will give birth to around 4 to 21 young and as stated before, can coop parent and raise the young with other snakes in their community.

Where Found

You can expect to find the Arizona Black Rattlesnake in western New Mexico and Arizona, typically in the mountains or in forests.


As of writing this, the Arizona Black Rattlesnake is listed as a SGCN (Species of Greatest Conservation Need) by the State Wildlife Action Plan for New Mexico. 

Photos and Videos

What is an Arizona Black Rattlesnake

What is an Arizona Black Rattlesnake

Arizona Black Rattlesnake on White Background Crotalus cerberus

References Used

What is an Arizona Black Rattlesnake