Vipers (Family Viperidae)
Sidewinder,Crotalus cerastes (Hallowell, 1854). (Plate 10.42, Map 10.35) 14–24 in (35–60 cm); light-gray background color with a single row of dark gray to brown oval blotches running down the center of the back; black speckling, occasionally forming indistinct blotches, along sides of body; no distinct black bands at base of rattle; enlarged scale forms a hornlike process above each eye; white stripe across top of each brown eye horn. Habitat: Sidewinders are most commonly encountered in sandy areas below 5,000 ft (1,520 m); however, individuals are occasionally found in rocky areas. They are primarily nocturnal but may be active in the late afternoon. Remarks: The subspecies of Sidewinder in the White-Inyo mountains region is the Mojave Desert Sidewinder (C. c. cerastes ). The Sidewinder reaches its northern distributional limits in the Hammil Valley. It probably ranges as far north as the Queen Valley in Mineral County, Nevada (see ? on Map 10.35). This species is unique among all New World snakes in that it moves sideways. This adaptation allows Sidewinders to move easily over sand dunes. Sidewinding has evolved independently in a few species of sand dune-dwelling vipers that occur in the deserts of northern and southern Africa. Sidewinders are the only rattlesnakes that bury themselves in the sand. It is possible to follow the distinctive S-shaped tracks of this snake and locate the site where the animal has buried itself for the day. Look for a circular depression in the sand, usually at the base of a bush, and watch for the top of the head protruding from the sand. Do not get too close because this is a venomous species. Range: On the west side
of the Panamint Mountains in the Panamint Valley; on the west side of the White-Inyo Range in the Owens Valley, Chalfant Valley, and Hammil Valley; absent from the Deep Springs Valley and the eastern side of the White-Inyo Range. References: Klauber (1944), Klauber (1972).
Localities: California, Inyo Co.: 1.9 mi NE Big Pine; 2.4 mi NE; Bishop (SDSNH); Darwin Falls, Argus Mtns.; jct. of Darwin Falls Rd. and Hwy. 190; 0.5 mi W; 3.3 mi E; jct. Hwy. 136 and Hwy. 190; 5.5 mi SE of Hwy. 136 on Hwy. 190; 10.0 mi SE; Keeler; 1 mi S (CMNH); 4 mi SE (SDSNH); 8 mi SE; Laws; Lone Pine; 1.5 mi SE; 3.5 mi SE; 8.6 mi E; 10.0 mi SE; 3.4 mi NW Panamint Springs; 1.6 mi W; 4.1 mi W; 5.2 mi W; 6.1 mi W; 6.3 mi W; 6.5 mi W; 7 mi W; 8.0 mi W; 11.5 mi W; 2.6 mi E Saline Valley Rd. on Hwy. 190; 4,450 ft, Silver Creek Canyon, 5
mi ENE Bishop; E side Tinemaha Reservoir. Mono Co.: 4,840 ft, Cinnamon Ranch, 10 mi SSE Benton; 6.9 mi N Inyo County line on Hwy. 6.
Speckled Rattlesnake,Crotalus mitchellii(Cope, 1861). (Plate 10.43, Map 10.36) 24–36 in (60–100 cm); background color light gray to light brown with narrow gray to dark brown bands running from neck to rattle; bands wider on middle of back than on sides; commonly scattered black and white flecks at margin of bands; ventral coloration cream with scattered black flecks; end of tail and base of rattle black; top of head with two internasal scales in contact with the rostral scale, and supraocular scales pitted or with outer edges broken. Habitat: This snake prefers rocky canyons and rocky slopes surrounding valleys but is occasionally found on valley floors. Speckled Rattlesnakes occur as high as 9,000 ft (2,740 m) in the White Mountains. This species is active during the day in the spring and fall and at high elevations. At lower elevations, it is nocturnal during the summer. Remarks: The subspecies of Speckled Rattlesnake present in this area is the Panamint Rattlesnake (C. m. stephensi ). This snake may be confused with the Western Rattlesnake (C. viridis ) because the two species are similar in size and color pattern. They can be distinguished by careful examination of the scales on the top of the head. The Panamint Rattlesnake has two internasal scales in contact with the rostral scale and has supraocular scales that are pitted or with broken outer edges. The Western Rattlesnake has three or four internasal scales touching the rostral scale, and the supraocular scales are smooth and regular in shape. Speckled Rattlesnakes occur from the tip of Baja California through southern California, western Arizona, and southern Nevada. The northern known limit of its distribution is the Fish Lake Valley. A detailed discussion of the distributional interactions between this species and the Western Rattlesnake is found in the following account. Owing to their size and tendency to rattle when approached, Speckled Rattlesnakes are easily observed. These snakes feed primarily on rodents but will also eat birds and lizards. Range: On the west side of the White-Inyo Range north to at least the Mono County line (see ? on Map 10.36); on the east, in the Panamint, Saline, Eureka, Deep Springs, and Fish Lake valleys; surrounding mountains to around 9,000 ft (2,740 m). References: Klauber (1936), Klauber (1972).
Localities: California, Inyo Co.: 2 mi S Aberdeen [old Aberdeen at railroad] (SDSNH); Barrel Springs, 9 mi NE Independence; Batchelder Spring, 8 mi NE Big Pine; Beveridge Canyon, Saline Valley (FMNH); 6 mi NE Big Pine; 6.3 mi NE; 6.6 mi NE; 7.2 mi NE: 8.2 mi NE; 10.7 mi NE; 23.3 mi NE; 25.6 NE; 27.1 mi NE; 29.4 mi NE; 31.9 mi NE; near Bishop (SDSNH); Darwin Falls; 5.2 mi W of Darwin Falls Rd. on Hwy. 190; 7 mi S of Hwy. 190 on Darwin Rd.; Deep Springs (CMNH); near; E end Deep Springs Valley (SDSNH); 3.7 mi SE of Hwy. 168 on Eureka Valley Rd.; 2,070 m, 10.6 mi SE; 2,150 m, 14.5 mi SE; 1,790 m, 21.8 mi SE; 24.1 mi SE; 24.3 mi SE; 28.1 mi SE; 37.4 mi SE; 40.1 mi SE; 3,300–5,320 ft, Grapevine Canyon, Nelson Range (CAS); 5,500 ft, Grapevine Canyon, Nelson Range [Willow Creek] (USNM); 5–8 mi N Independence (SDSNH); Jackass Spring, 20 mi N Darwin, Panamint Mtns. (SDSNH); 39 mi E Lone Pine; 8.7 mi SE; 1.9 mi S Mono County line on Hwy. 168; 5 mi NW Panamint Springs; 6.5 mi W; 4.1
mi W of Panamint Valley Rd. on Hwy. 190; 10.1 mi W; 5.7 mi E of Saline Valley Rd. on Hwy. 190; Silver Creek Canyon, White Mtns.; 3.4 mi S Nevada state line on Hwy. 266; summit of Westgard Pass (CAS); Mt. Whitney Fish Hatchery, 5 mi N Independence (LACM); Willow Springs, Saline Valley (AMNH). Nevada, Esmeralda Co.: 3 mi S Dyer (LACM); 3.4 mi N; 7.2 mi S; 1 mi S Fish Lake; 4.0 mi S of Hwy. 6 on Hwy. 264; 2,150 m, Indian Creek, White Mtns.; 7,150 ft, Trail Canyon, White Mtns.
Western Rattlesnake,Crotalus viridis (Rafinesque, 1818). (Plate 10.44, Map 10.36) 28–50 in (70–125 cm); background color light gray to light brown, with narrow gray to dark brown bands running from neck to rattle; bands wider on middle of back than on sides; commonly scattered black and white flecks at margin of bands; ventral coloration cream with scattered black flecks; end of tail and base of rattle black; top of head with three or four prenasal scales in contact with rostral; supraocular scales smooth and regular in shape. Habitat: This snake occurs in valley floors, rocky canyons, and well into the mountains. Western Rattlesnakes are active during the day and are also nocturnal on warm nights. Remarks: The subspecies of Western Rattlesnake that occurs in the area is the Great Basin Rattlesnake (C. v. lutosus ). (See preceding account for characteristics that distinguish this species from the similar Speckled Rattlesnake, C. mitchellii. ) There are eight subspecies of the Western Rattlesnake, ranging from Canada to Mexico. In most places where Western Rattlesnakes occur together with or near other species of rattlesnakes, there are differences in size and color pattern that make it easy to tell the species apart. This is not the case in the White-Inyo mountains region. The Speckled Rattlesnake has been found as far north as Silver Creek Canyon, just south of the Mono County line in the Owens Valley, and at the northern edge of the Fish Lake Valley. The only three specimens of Western Rattlesnake known from the area were collected in the vicinity of the California-Nevada state line in the Queen Valley. These three specimens are similar in color pattern to specimens of Speckled Rattlesnakes taken in the region to the south. These two species may hybridize in the northern White Mountains and adjacent valleys. Unfortunately, no specimens have been obtained from these areas. Range: Northwestern slopes of White Mountains, Queen Valley, and areas north to edge of study area (see ? on Map 10.36). References: Fitch and Glading (1947), Klauber (1972).
Localities: California, Mono Co.: 0.5 mi SW Nevada state line on Hwy. 6. Nevada, Mineral Co.: 6,400 ft, 3.2 mi W Montgomery Pass; 2.3 mi NE California state line on Hwy. 6.