Crotalus molossus

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Crotalus molossus
Northern black-tailed rattlesnake.jpg
Scientific classification Red Pencil Icon.png
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Reptilia
Order: Squamata
Suborder: Serpentes
Family: Viperidae
Genus: Crotalus
Species:
C. molossus
Binomial name
Crotalus molossus
Baird & Girard, 1853
Crotalus molossus distribution (RDB).png
Synonyms
  • Crotalus molossus
    Baird & Girard, 1853
  • Crotalus ornatus Hallowell, 1854
  • Caudisona molossus Cope, 1860
  • C[audisona]. molossa
    Cope, 1867
  • [Crotalus durissus] Var. molossus Garman, 1884
  • Crotalus terrificus
    Boulenger, 1896 (part)
  • Crotalus molossus molossus
    Gloyd, 1936 [2]
Common names: black-tailed rattlesnake, green rattler, [3] Northern black-tailed rattlesnake. [4]

Crotalus molossus is a venomous pit viper species found in the southwestern United States and Mexico. Four subspecies are currently recognized, including the nominate subspecies described here. [5]

Venomous snakes are species of the suborder Serpentes that are capable of producing venom, which they use for killing prey, for defense, and to assist with digestion of their prey. The venom is typically delivered by injection using hollow or grooved fangs, although some venomous snakes lack well-developed fangs. Common venomous snakes include the families Elapidae, Viperidae, Atractaspididae, and some of the Colubridae. The toxicity of venom is mainly indicated by murine LD50, while multiple factors are considered to judge the potential danger to humans. Other important factors for risk assessment include the likelihood that a snake will bite, the quantity of venom delivered with the bite, the efficiency of the delivery mechanism, and the location of a bite on the body of the victim. Snake venom may have both neurotoxic and hemotoxic properties.

In biology, a species ( ) is the basic unit of classification and a taxonomic rank of an organism, as well as a unit of biodiversity. A species is often defined as the largest group of organisms in which any two individuals of the appropriate sexes or mating types can produce fertile offspring, typically by sexual reproduction. Other ways of defining species include their karyotype, DNA sequence, morphology, behaviour or ecological niche. In addition, paleontologists use the concept of the chronospecies since fossil reproduction cannot be examined. While these definitions may seem adequate, when looked at more closely they represent problematic species concepts. For example, the boundaries between closely related species become unclear with hybridisation, in a species complex of hundreds of similar microspecies, and in a ring species. Also, among organisms that reproduce only asexually, the concept of a reproductive species breaks down, and each clone is potentially a microspecies.

United States Federal republic in North America

The United States of America (USA), commonly known as the United States or America, is a country comprising 50 states, a federal district, five major self-governing territories, and various possessions. At 3.8 million square miles, the United States is the world's third or fourth largest country by total area and is slightly smaller than the entire continent of Europe's 3.9 million square miles. With a population of over 327 million people, the U.S. is the third most populous country. The capital is Washington, D.C., and the largest city by population is New York City. Forty-eight states and the capital's federal district are contiguous in North America between Canada and Mexico. The State of Alaska is in the northwest corner of North America, bordered by Canada to the east and across the Bering Strait from Russia to the west. The State of Hawaii is an archipelago in the mid-Pacific Ocean. The U.S. territories are scattered about the Pacific Ocean and the Caribbean Sea, stretching across nine official time zones. The extremely diverse geography, climate, and wildlife of the United States make it one of the world's 17 megadiverse countries.

Contents

Description

C. m. molossus Crotalus molossus molossus CDC.png
C. m. molossus

This medium-sized species [3] averages from 76 to 107 cm (30 to 42 in) in length. [6] Large specimens are usually not much more than 100 cm (39 in) long, although lengths of 125.0 cm (49.2 in) (Gloyd, 1940), 125.7 cm (49.5 in) (Klauber, 1972), and 129.5 cm (51.0 in) (Shaw & Campbell, 1974) have been reported. [3] The females tend to be larger than the males.

Howard Kay Gloyd was an American herpetologist who is credited with describing several new species and subspecies of reptiles, such as the Florida cottonmouth, Agkistrodon piscivorus conanti.

Laurence Monroe Klauber American zoologist

Laurence M. Klauber, was an American herpetologist and the foremost authority on rattlesnakes. He was the first curator of reptiles and amphibians at the San Diego Natural History Museum and Consulting Curator of Reptiles for the San Diego Zoo. He was also a businessman, inventor, and contributed to mathematics in his study of the distribution of prime numbers.

They range in color from yellows and olive greens to browns and black. As their name implies, one of their most distinguishing features is, despite variations in body color, the tail scales are entirely black. Often, this rattlesnake has a black band across its eyes and diagonally down to the corners of its mouth, forming a sort of facial 'mask'.

Like other rattlesnakes, C. molossus has a rattle composed of keratin on the end of its tail. Each time the snake sheds its skin, a new segment is added to the rattle. They can shed their skin several times a year, and the rattle is fairly fragile and can be broken, so the length of a rattlesnake's rattle is not an accurate measure of its age, unless the terminal button is intact.

Keratin one of a family of fibrous structural proteins; protein that protects epithelial cells from damage or stress

Keratin is one of a family of fibrous structural proteins. It is the key structural material making up hair, nails, horns, claws, hooves, and the outer layer of human skin. Keratin is also the protein that protects epithelial cells from damage or stress. Keratin is extremely insoluble in water and organic solvents. Keratin monomers assemble into bundles to form intermediate filaments, which are tough and form strong unmineralized epidermal appendages found in reptiles, birds, amphibians, and mammals. The only other biological matter known to approximate the toughness of keratinized tissue is chitin.

Snake wiggling animal without legs

Snakes are elongated, legless, carnivorous reptiles of the suborder Serpentes. Like all other squamates, snakes are ectothermic, amniote vertebrates covered in overlapping scales. Many species of snakes have skulls with several more joints than their lizard ancestors, enabling them to swallow prey much larger than their heads with their highly mobile jaws. To accommodate their narrow bodies, snakes' paired organs appear one in front of the other instead of side by side, and most have only one functional lung. Some species retain a pelvic girdle with a pair of vestigial claws on either side of the cloaca. Lizards have evolved elongate bodies without limbs or with greatly reduced limbs about twenty-five times independently via convergent evolution, leading to many lineages of legless lizards. Legless lizards resemble snakes, but several common groups of legless lizards have eyelids and external ears, which snakes lack, although this rule is not universal.

Rattlesnake Group of venomous snakes of the genera Crotalus and Sistrurus

Rattlesnakes are a group of venomous snakes of the genera Crotalus and Sistrurus of the subfamily Crotalinae. The scientific name Crotalus is derived from the Greek κρόταλον, meaning "castanet". The name Sistrurus is the Latinized form of the Greek word for "tail rattler" and shares its root with the ancient Egyptian musical instrument the sistrum, a type of rattle. The 36 known species of rattlesnakes have between 65 and 70 subspecies, all native to the Americas, ranging from southern Alberta and Saskatchewan and southern British Columbia in Canada to central Argentina.

Geographic range

It is found in the southwestern United States in Arizona, New Mexico and west and central Texas, and Mexico as far south as Oaxaca. Also it is found in the Gulf of California on San Estéban and Tiburón Islands. The distribution reaches a maximum elevation of 2930 m. Although it has been recorded being seen at as high of an altitude as 6900 feet at the McDonald Observatory in the Davis Mountains of West Texas. The type locality given is "Fort Webster, St. Rita del Cobre, N. Mex." (Fort Webster, Santa Rita del Cobre, Grant County, New Mexico, USA). [2]

Arizona state of the United States of America

Arizona is a state in the southwestern region of the United States. It is also part of the Western and the Mountain states. It is the sixth largest and the 14th most populous of the 50 states. Its capital and largest city is Phoenix. Arizona shares the Four Corners region with Utah, Colorado, and New Mexico; its other neighboring states are Nevada and California to the west and the Mexican states of Sonora and Baja California to the south and southwest.

New Mexico State of the United States of America

New Mexico is a state in the Southwestern region of the United States of America; its capital and cultural center is Santa Fe, which was founded in 1610 as capital of Nuevo México, while its largest city is Albuquerque with its accompanying metropolitan area. It is one of the Mountain States and shares the Four Corners region with Utah, Colorado, and Arizona; its other neighboring states are Oklahoma to the northeast, Texas to the east-southeast, and the Mexican states of Chihuahua to the south and Sonora to the southwest. With a population around two million, New Mexico is the 36th state by population. With a total area of 121,592 sq mi (314,920 km2), it is the fifth-largest and sixth-least densely populated of the 50 states. Due to their geographic locations, northern and eastern New Mexico exhibit a colder, alpine climate, while western and southern New Mexico exhibit a warmer, arid climate.

Texas State of the United States of America

Texas is the second largest state in the United States by both area and population. Geographically located in the South Central region of the country, Texas shares borders with the U.S. states of Louisiana to the east, Arkansas to the northeast, Oklahoma to the north, New Mexico to the west, and the Mexican states of Chihuahua, Coahuila, Nuevo León, and Tamaulipas to the southwest, and has a coastline with the Gulf of Mexico to the southeast.

Conservation status

This species is classified as Least Concern IUCN Red List of Threatened Species (v3.1, 2001). [7] 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. The population trend was stable when assessed in 2007. [8]

IUCN Red List inventory of the global conservation status of biological species

The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species, founded in 1965, has evolved to become the world's most comprehensive inventory of the global conservation status of biological species. It uses a set of criteria to evaluate the extinction risk of thousands of species and subspecies. These criteria are relevant to all species and all regions of the world. With its strong scientific base, the IUCN Red List is recognized as the most authoritative guide to the status of biological diversity. A series of Regional Red List are produced by countries or organizations, which assess the risk of extinction to species within a political management unit.

Behavior

CrotalusMolossus.jpg

All rattlesnakes are carnivorous, their primary food sources being rodents, other small mammals, birds, and small reptiles. The behavior of northern black-tailed rattlesnakes varies over the course of a year. In the spring and fall, they are primarily diurnal. In the summer, they shift to a nocturnal behavior, to avoid the heat of summer. In the winter, they hibernate in dens created and abandoned by other animals, often with other species of snakes. They are variable in their form of locomotion depending on what substrate they need to traverse and will actively change between sidewinding or rectilinear movement. Although it is an able climber and expert swimmer, C. molossus is primarily a terrestrial species and inhabits grasslands, desert areas, and rocky and mountainous areas, as well as high-altitude forested habitats.

Carnivore organism that eats mostly or exclusively animal tissue

A carnivore, meaning "meat eater", is an organism that derives its energy and nutrient requirements from a diet consisting mainly or exclusively of animal tissue, whether through predation or scavenging. Animals that depend solely on animal flesh for their nutrient requirements are called obligate carnivores while those that also consume non-animal food are called facultative carnivores. Omnivores also consume both animal and non-animal food, and, apart from the more general definition, there is no clearly defined ratio of plant to animal material that would distinguish a facultative carnivore from an omnivore. A carnivore at the top of the food chain, not preyed upon by other animals, is termed an apex predator.

Docility and Defense

C. molossus is considered to be one the most docile rattlesnakes because of their laid-back demeanor and curious attitude. Bites are fairly rare because of this. They rely mostly on camouflage to avoid trouble. C. molossus normally tries to slither away when confronted, but will rattle when cornered.

Venom

The venom of the C. molossus is primarily hemotoxic venom, like most Crotalids. However, the toxicity of the venom is only about two-thirds as toxic as a western diamondback and generally not fatal to humans. CroFab antivenom is often used to treat bites.

C. molossus has larger venom glands than most rattlesnakes in its region. Because its venom isn't as toxic as most other Crotalids, it needs to inject large quantities of venom into its prey to be effective.

Reproduction

Breeding occurs in the spring when males follow the pheromone trails of the females. Copulation can sometimes last for hours and happen multiple times over a period of days. After mating, the male often stays near the female for several days to prevent any other males from mating with her. The female gives birth to live young in the summer, and the babies stay with the mother only until they wander off on their own, usually less than a day or two. Females are believed to breed every year, and can have litters as large as 10-12 young, but usually average four to six. Their lifespans average 15–20 years.

Taxonomy

A recent revision [9] showed that eastern populations from Texas and central and eastern New Mexico form a distinct species separate from C. molossus: Crotalus ornatus Hallowell 1854.

Subspecies

Subspecies [5] Taxon author [5] Common nameGeographic range
C. m. molossus Baird & Girard, 1853Northern black-tailed rattlesnake United States (Arizona, New Mexico, southwest Texas), Mexico
C. m. nigrescens Gloyd, 1936Mexican black-tailed rattlesnakeMexico (South Sonora, southwest Chihuahua, southern Coahuila, south to Oaxaca and Veracruz, Tlaxcala)
C. m. oaxacus Gloyd, 1948Oaxacan black-tailed rattlesnakeMexico (Oaxaca)

See also

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References

  1. https://www.iucnredlist.org/species/64324/12768461
  2. 1 2 McDiarmid RW, Campbell JA, Touré T. 1999. Snake Species of the World: A Taxonomic and Geographic Reference, vol. 1. Herpetologists' League. 511 pp. ISBN   1-893777-00-6 (series). ISBN   1-893777-01-4 (volume).
  3. 1 2 3 Campbell JA, Lamar WW. 2004. The Venomous Reptiles of the Western Hemisphere. Comstock Publishing Associates, Ithaca and London. 870 pp. 1500 plates. ISBN   0-8014-4141-2.
  4. Wright AH, Wright AA. 1957. Handbook of Snakes of the United States and Canada. Comstock Publishing Associates. Ithaca and London. (7th printing, 1985). 1105 pp. ISBN   0-8014-0463-0.
  5. 1 2 3 "Crotalus molossus". Integrated Taxonomic Information System . Retrieved 24 February 2007.
  6. Conant R. 1975. A Field Guide to Reptiles and Amphibians of Eastern and Central North America. Second Edition. [First published in 1958]. Houghton Mifflin Company. Boston. 429 pp. 48 plates. ISBN   0-395-19979-4 (hc), ISBN   0-395-19977-8 (pb).
  7. Crotalus molossus at the IUCN Red List . Accessed 13 September 2007.
  8. 2001 Categories & Criteria (version 3.1) at the IUCN Red List . Accessed 13 September 2007.
  9. Anderson, C. G., and E. Greenbaum. 2012. Phylogeography of northern populations of the black-tailed rattlesnake (Crotalus molossus Baird and Girard, 1853), with the revalidation of C. ornatus Hallowell, 1854. Herpetol. Monogr. 26: 19–57.