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

Crotalus tigris
Tiger Rattlesnake


Crotalus comes from the Greek crotalon, meaning a rattle or little bell. The name tigris is Greek for tiger-like.


The Tiger Rattlesnake is a small snake reaching less than 31 inches in length. The dorsal side of the Tiger Rattlesnake consist of many irregular, grey or brownish crossbands. The crossbands are composed of many small poorly defined dots. In general, this species has more extensive crossbanding then any other western rattlesnake. The snakes head is small in proportion with the body. The Tiger Rattlesnake, like all other rattlesnakes, has keeled scales.

Range and Habitat

This snake ranges from southern Arizona to southern Sonora in México. In our region, it is found on Isla Tiburón in the Gulf of California. This island is located along the coast of central Sonora in mainland México. The Tiger Rattlesnake occurs in the arid, rocky, desert foothills from sea level to 4,800 feet (1,450 m). This rocky habitat is usually dominated by cacti, mesquite trees, creosote bush, ocotillo, and paloverde.

Natural History

Little is known about the natural history of the Tiger Rattlesnake. It is known to be secretive. It feeds on rodents and will eat lizards as well.

Conservation Status

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.

Field Guide: Reptiles and Amphibians | Field Guide Feedback Form