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Snakes in Salt Lake City Snakes are a reptilian species that have existed since the prehistoric era of the Earth. Many different types of snakes are prevalent in different parts of the United States. This is based on the different ecological zones in which different species of snakes are prevalent…
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It is first important to distinguish that there are thirty-one different species of snakes that live in Utah, some of which are poisonous and some that are non-poisonous. Poisonous snakes, such as the Mojave Desert Sidewinder, have elliptical pupils and a single row of scales on the underside. The tip of the tail is equipped with a rattler of some variation. These snakes also have a forked tongue, which is a sensing mechanism in which they can sense their prey. The Mojave Desert Sidewinder is a venomous rattlesnake, which is classified as a pitviper species. This means that they have a heat-sensing organ, which is specifically located between the eye and the nostril. The scientific name for this particular species is Crotalus cerastes. Herpetologist Edward Hallowell discovered this species in 1854. There are two other subspecies, which are indigenous to other regions of the United States: the Sonoran Desert Sidewinder (Crotalus cerastes cercobombus) and the Colorado Desert Sidewinder (Crotalus cerastes laterorepens). Compared to many other snake species, this pitviper is smaller, usually ranging from fifty to eighty centimeters in length. Another unusual feature of this species is the fact that females of this species are larger than the males. The color of the scales of this snake is yellow-brownish color, which allows it to camouflage so easily into the desert environment. The underneath of the stomach is characterized by a cream-white color. Other nicknames for the Mojave Desert Sidewinder are the sidewinder and horned rattlesnake due to the little horny scales that sit above the eyes of the snake. While the Mojave Desert Sidewinder exists in Salt Lake City, Utah, it is also indigenous to other areas of the southwest and in Mexico. These types of snakes are typically nocturnal animals that are most active at night. The diet of the Mojave Desert Sidewinder consists of smaller prey such as smaller snakes, lizards, birds, and mice. Since they like to bury in the sand, they typically have an ambush style of hunting. They also tend to mate in the spring and produce live young (O'Shea 48-49). The most unique feature of the sidewinder is the way in which it travels. The sidewinder has two distinct ways. Traditionally, the snake can travel in a serpentine manner. However, the distinct pattern, which is created by the sidewinder, is the J-shape pattern as it travels on its side. The reason that the snake adopts this method of traveling is due to the extreme conditions of being in the desert. The sand gets so hot that it is hard for the snake to travel in the typical serpentine pattern. Thus, the Mojave Desert Sidewinder travels in the J-shape pattern. The way this locomotion works is the snake is able to minimize the amount of surface area it spends on the ground as it travels across the coarse sand. This is also why the snake is typically not active in the middle of the day and is seen doing most of their movement at night (Wiscomb, and Messmer 1-4). This snake, as mentioned earlier, is poisonous. While it is typically not fatal to humans, if left untreated it can result in complicating medical conditions, which could lead to death. The way that a Mojave Desert Sidewinder injects its venom into its prey is through its fangs. It picks up the heat from its prey by sensing using its tongue and sensory organ on the top of its head. When it ambushes it, it extends it’ Read More
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