San Diego Natural History Museum--Your Nature ConnectionSDNHM Field Guide
Angel Island Speckled Rattlesnake, photographed by BDH

Crotalus angelensis
Angel Island Speckled Rattlesnake


Crotalus comes from the Greek crotalon, meaning a rattle or little bell; angelensis is a latinized spelling of the island Angel de La Guarda in the Gulf of California. For a long period of time, this species was recognized as a subspecies of Crotalus mitchelli. In Spanish, rattlesnakes are known as La Vibora de Cascabel.


The Angel Island Speckled Rattlesnake can grow to lengths of 6-7 feet. (2 m). It has a heavy body with a narrow neck. The head is wide and triangular in shape. Its coloration varies from pale-gray to yellowish-gray, orange, or pinkish. The dorsal markings consist of transverse blotches or crossbands.

Range and Habitat

This species occurs only on Isla Angel de La Guarda, in the Gulf of California, México. The island contains desert terrain and dry-adapted plants.

Natural History

Little is known about the natural history of this island endemic. It is known to occur throughout Isla Angel de La Guarda from the beaches to at least 1500 feet in elevation. It can be abundant around the cobblestone beaches where it most likely hunts introduced rats and lizards. It is proportionately larger than its closest Speckled Rattlesnake relatives, although its rattle tends to be proportionately smaller.

Conservation Status

Because this species only occurs on a single island (albeit a large one), it is susceptible to extinction by collecting and the introduction of exotic predators such as feral cats. There have been no proposed conservation plans. Because of widespread negative attitudes towards snakes, very few conservation programs, worldwide, have been created. A much higher percentage of snakes are threatened with extinction than is currently recognized. Therefore, snakes are particularly susceptible to being overlooked by conservation-minded biologists.

Text by David Gonzalez and Bradford Hollingsworth.
Photos by Bradford Hollingsworth.

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