Mojave GreenThe Mojave Green is a highly venomous pit viper species found in the deserts of the southwestern United States and central Mexico, which is quite common in the Mojave Desert. It possesses a venom that is far less destructive to tissue than the venom of the diamondback rattler, but which is nonetheless more deadly in that it contains potent neurotoxic-hemotoxic properties, making it the world’s most powerful rattlesnake venom. The Mojave green’s venom impacts the blood and the nerves of the snake’s victims and shuts down the respiratory system.
Known scientifically as the Crotalus scutulatus, the Mojave Green rattlesnake is often but not necessarily green, varying from shades of brown to pale green depending on the surroundings. The snake’s hue renders it extremely well camouflaged for whatever land it inhabits. It is somewhat similar in appearance to the Crotalus atrox, the western diamondback rattlesnake. Crotalus scutulatus has a dark diamond pattern along its back and the white bands on the tail tend to be wider than the black, while the band width is usually more equal in western diamondback. The Mojave green has a triangular shaped head with enlarged scales on the crown between the supraoculars, and the light postocular stripe passes behind the corner of the mouth
The species grows to an average of less than three-and-a-half feet in length, although some have been known to reach a length of four-and-a-half feet. As snakes go, they are fairly heavy bodied for their length.
There is evidence to suggest that in some regions there has been some degree of interbreeding with other snakes, leading to a deviation in appearance and venom toxicity.
It is found in deserts and other areas with xeric vegetation from near sea level to about 7,700 feet in altitude. Primarily a snake of high desert or lower mountain slopes, it is often found near scrub brush such as mesquite and creosote, but may also reside in lowland areas of sparse vegetation, among cacti, Joshua tree forests, or grassy plains. It tends to avoid densely vegetated and rocky areas, preferring open, arid habitats. This snake ranges from southern California, southern Nevada, extreme southwestern Utah, most of Arizona, southern New Mexico, and some of Texas. It also ranges southward through much of Mexico to southern Puebla.
They brumate alone or in small groups during the winter, and are active from April until September. They are primarily nocturnal and sometimes crepuscular snakes, hiding in rodent burrows or under crevices or desert bushes during the heat of the day. Ambush predators who hunt most often nocturnally, they eat small rodents and lizards, occasionally dining on other snakes, birds, bird eggs and even some insects.
The Mojave rattlesnake has a reputation for being aggressive towards humans, although such behavior is often exaggerated. Like other snakes, they will defend themselves if disturbed or harassed. These snakes are hunted, killed and eaten by other snakes like the California kingsnake but also roadrunners and other mammals and birds of prey.
The mating season takes place in the spring and summer. The mojave rattlesnake is an ovoviparous snake species, such that the eggs hatch within the female, which gives birth to live young in late July, August or early September, coinciding with the summer monsoons. They use abandoned rodent burrows to give birth anywhere from two up to 17 hatchlings, but the average brood size is around eight. The younglings measure up to 10 inches in length.
The bite of Mojave green is not as painful as that of some other rattlesnakes. Rattlesnake venom consists of a cocktail of enzymes and other proteins that are inimical to tissues and metabolic functions. While the venom of a subset of Mojave green rattlesnakes is not as powerful as that of some other Mojave greens, the venom in most Mojave greens found in the Mojave Desert is more than ten times as toxic as other rattlesnake venoms. The venom of these snakes is about 16 times more toxic than that of the Sidewinder (Crotalus cerastes) and surpasses even that of the tiger rattlesnake (Crotalus tigris).
Medical treatment as soon as possible after a bite is critical to a positive outcome, dramatically increasing chances for survival. Even the less potent venom of some Mojave greens causes pronounced proteolytic and hemorrhagic effects, similar to the bites of other rattlesnake species. Risk to life and limb is still significant, as with all rattlesnakes, if not treated as soon as possible after a bite. In people bitten by Mojave greens bearing the most powerful venom, the onset of serious signs and symptoms can be delayed, occasionally leading to an initial underestimation of the severity of the bite. In those cases where a significant quantity of venom has been injected by a bite, the victim may begin to experience in relatively short order vision abnormalities and difficulty swallowing and speaking. In severe cases, skeletal muscle weakness can lead to difficulty breathing and even respiratory failure. Mojave green bites left untreated are very likely to result in death.
Antivenom is produced by allowing a snake to bite a horse, which, because of its extensive body and organ mass can generally withstand such a bite. Through such exposure, equines begin to produce significant antibodies to ward off the effects of the venom. Those antibodies are harvested in extracting the serum from the exposed equine. Prior to the availability of antivenom in the United States mortality from all snakebites ranged from five to 25 percent.
If injected in time, antivenom effectively neutralizes snake venom.

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