Rattlesnakes comprise two genera within Crotalinae: Sistrurus and Crotalus.
Most species of rattlesnakes have hemotoxic venom, destroying tissue, degenerating organs, and causing coagulopathy (disrupted blood clotting).
Heavy boots and long pants reinforced with leather or canvas are recommended when hiking in areas known to harbor rattlesnakes.
Rattlesnakes are born with fully functioning fangs capable of injecting venom and can regulate the amount of venom they inject when biting.
Untreated rattlesnake bites, especially from larger species, are very often fatal.
Pets should be kept leashed to prevent them from provoking a rattlesnake.
When encountering a rattlesnake on a trail, keep your distance and allow the snake room to retreat.
Rattlesnakes are members of the family Viperidae, a family of venomous snakes commonly referred to as vipers, although the term viperids is more specific and distinguishes them from the viperines (subfamily Viperinae).
The best way to avoid contact with rattlesnakes is to remain observant and avoid potential encounters.
The venom stuns or kills typical rattlesnake prey immediately.
Rattlesnakes may shed their skins several times a year depending on food supply and growth rates.
Ecologically, rattlesnakes help in the balance of nature, regulating populations of rodents and other small vertebrates.
Different species of rattlesnake vary significantly in size, territory, markings, and temperament.
Some rattlesnakes, especially the tropical species, have neurotoxic venom.
Sistrurus species differ from the larger rattlesnakes of the genus Crotalus in a number of ways.
A rattlesnake will follow prey that does not quickly succumb to the venom and attempts to escape.
Rattlesnakes are prey for kingsnakes, roadrunners, pigs, hawks, and eagles.
Hikers should always watch their steps when negotiating fallen logs or boulders and take extra caution when near rocky outcroppings and ledges where rattlesnakes may be hiding or sunning themselves.
Any bite from a rattlesnake should be treated as a life-threatening medical emergency that requires immediate hospital treatment from trained professionals.