NNTRC Snakes

Scientific Name

Crotalus oreganus abyssus

Common Name 

Grand Canyon Rattlesnake

Physical Characteristics

Length, 12-39 in. (30-100 cm). Red, pink or salmon ground color with slightly darker blotches along the back which may fade with age. Only within the canyon does this snake occur in its most characteristic form. The Grand Canyon Rattlesnake intergrades with surrounding species (subspecies) which leads to some confusion and problems with identification.

Geographic Range (USA)

Arizona, Grand Canyon area. Found from 1800 ft around the Kanab Creek area at the bottom of the canyon up to 8000 ft.

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Mesquite scrub, desert scrub and pinyon-juniper woodlands.


Mice, lizards, and small birds.


Hemorrhagic toxins, resulting in tissue damage and edema. However, neurotoxins may also be present causing paralysis of the muscles of swallowing and respiration.


Once considered a subspecies of the Crotalus viridis complex. Recent molecular analysis suggests it is a separate species and Douglas et al. (2003) has elevated it to full species status. The Grand Canyon Rattlesnake is a relatively inoffensive snake. However, some individuals have a neurotoxic component in their venom which increases the toxicity significantly. Therefore this snake is considered dangerous.

This page was last updated on: February 12, 2016