ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Puzzling New Venom Strain Found In Southern California Rattlers

Updated on March 2, 2013
IN GREEN: shows the Range of the Southern Pacific Rattler in California.
IN GREEN: shows the Range of the Southern Pacific Rattler in California. | Source
Juvenile Southern Pacific Rattler-photo taken by Lake Silverwood, California.
Juvenile Southern Pacific Rattler-photo taken by Lake Silverwood, California. | Source
Very Large Adult Southern Pacific Rattler.  Photo taken near Angelus Oaks, California.
Very Large Adult Southern Pacific Rattler. Photo taken near Angelus Oaks, California. | Source
Mojave Green Rattlesnake in a defensive pose.
Mojave Green Rattlesnake in a defensive pose. | Source
An effort to warn and advise the Public before entering the National Forest System.
An effort to warn and advise the Public before entering the National Forest System. | Source
I nearly stepped on this one during a recent Spring hike..is it a Mojave Green or pale, greenish species of the Southern Pacific?  All inquiries and comments welcome!
I nearly stepped on this one during a recent Spring hike..is it a Mojave Green or pale, greenish species of the Southern Pacific? All inquiries and comments welcome! | Source
Note the rattles.  I felt this was an unusual coloration for a Southern Pacific..it seemed to have a greenish tinge to its skin. (Full width shown in preceding photo)
Note the rattles. I felt this was an unusual coloration for a Southern Pacific..it seemed to have a greenish tinge to its skin. (Full width shown in preceding photo) | Source

By Gloria Siess {"Garnetbird"}

An alarming new strain of super-toxic venom has been reported in California. Ordinarily this neurotoxic venom has only been associated with the Mojave Green rattlesnake, a snake usually found in desert and high desert terrain. According to Richard Dart, director of the Rocky Mt. Poison and Drug Center, the Southern Pacific Rattlesnake appears to be packing a neurotoxic whallop of a bite these days.

I am reminded of locals in the Cajon Pass area of San Bernardino County--talkative folk who have reported seeing the Mojave Green and the Southern Pacific mating. Is this possible? As ghastly as the prospect seems, it is not only possible, but a logical explanation according to Richard Dart. Other explanations include, weakening immune systems among snake bite victims (due to toxins in the air) or latent genes emerging from the Southern Pacific Rattlers. Other scientists have speculated that the Southern Pacific, due to its nature, is not killed as often as more visible and "noisy" rattlers, thus allowing the species to move into a niche that would incease their venom potential.

The range of the dreaded Southern Pacific is shown in the first photo, in green. It includes areas such as Ventura County, Los Angeles County, Riverside County, San Bernardino County and even Catalina Island.

Dr. Sean Bush of Loma Linda University Hospital, is a local celebrity, and known as the "snake bite doctor." He has concluded that the majority of snake bites in California are due to the Southern Pacific (a sub species of the Western Diamondback).He, too, has reported far more neurological symptoms in snake bite victims than ever before. The implication is--be safer than ever before when hiking or camping, and keep both eyes glued to the trail and shrubbery.

Neurotoxic venom causes rapid respiratory arrest, seizures, fainting and other disabling symptoms. It is said to be ten times more potent than regular snake venom. If a species with a range such as the Southern Pacific is now producing such neurotoxic strains, it behooves us to be especially aware and alert. As to why this is occurring, explanations vary, and are rooted in mystery.

Comments

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    • Stacy Flit profile image

      Stacy Flit 

      8 weeks ago

      In 1969 my cousin and I saw a black rattlesnake (it had a light colored underbelly that matched its large rattles) on our grandpa's small ranch. The location was south of Livermore California off of Mines Road northeast of Eylar Mountain. We had been shooting ground squirrels that had been taking over the land all day when I saw a squirrel run along an embankment. I aimed the .22 rifle at the rodent and fired. I saw dirt kick up just low of the squirrel and knew I missed just as the squirrel twisted and seemed to bite at its side. Very odd behavior I thought. It ran off over the side so we walked down to see where it went. That is when we saw the 6 foot black rattler stretched out in the dirt. I believe it had bitten the squirrel. I aimed the rifle at the snake and pulled the trigger but it was out of ammo. I took the.22 pistol Bill had and fired a round at the snake's head but again my aim was slightly low. The snake rolled from the blast and disappeared over the embankment. We did not find it and it must have gone into an oak tree root system left exposed by a grader that cut a road in previous years.

      Unless there is another black snake in California then the range of the southern pacific rattlesnake is larger than indicated here.

    • profile image

      Mitchell 

      3 years ago

      Geez, that's uneavieleblb. Kudos and such.

    • profile image

      William 

      4 years ago

      There is a rattlesnake in the Midwest that may have neurotoxic or hemotoxic venom depending on the latitude of it's range. In northern (colder) states, it's neurotoxic, in southern states it is hemotoxic..... I can't seem to find my reference (web site) at this time...

    • Race Hinnen profile image

      Race Hinnen 

      5 years ago from Palm Desert, California

      what people are failing to realise is every snake is an individual, and each individual can and will produce venom similar to its own kind, but also individual venom of its own. Each snake, has its OWN cocktail of protein enzymes; thus producing either a lot or a little neurotoxin/hemotoxin mix. There has been studies showing that some Western Diamondback rattlesnakes have produced small amounts of neurotoxin venom.

      So...to over-categorise a certain Subspecies and generalise it's type of venom across the spectrum, would be a sloppy identifacation analysis.

    • diogenes profile image

      diogenes 

      7 years ago from UK and Mexico

      My great pleasure, GB Bob

    • GarnetBird profile imageAUTHOR

      Gloria Siess 

      7 years ago from Wrightwood, California

      You are soooo right, Diogenes--I enjoy your comments and value your input!

    • profile image

      diogenes 

      7 years ago

      Neurotoxic is considered "worse" overall, but it depends on many variable: how much venom injected,site of bite (trunk neck and face being worst), size, age and weight of victim, antivenin avaible; first aid, and so on. No hard and fast rules except don't get bit in the first place! Bob

    • GarnetBird profile imageAUTHOR

      Gloria Siess 

      7 years ago from Wrightwood, California

      I understand that the neuro-toxic venoms are especially lethal. We had a sad case here in California. A teacher was bitten by a dreaded Mojave Green and died while calling 911. Thank you for your timely comments.

    • diogenes profile image

      diogenes 

      7 years ago from UK and Mexico

      Afterwoed.

      Snake venom is a very complex combination of many proteins, enzymes and other chemicals which becomes a saliva refined in the poison gland and held in sacs ready for use. That there is so much variation in different reptiles is due to the ad-mix of all these components. Bob

    • GarnetBird profile imageAUTHOR

      Gloria Siess 

      7 years ago from Wrightwood, California

      Thank you paddyboy--it is a strange situation here..not too comforting if one likes to hike..

    • PADDYBOY60 profile image

      PADDYBOY60 

      7 years ago from Centreville Michigan

      Very interesting article! I am always interested in what's going on in our reptile world. I am no expert on western breeds, although I do read as much as I can on them. I do believe in a certain amount of evolution, that is that animals will change and adapt to new environments and habitat. This also includes their defenses. As far as crossbreeding, I really don't think they would. But I have been wrong before!

    • GarnetBird profile imageAUTHOR

      Gloria Siess 

      7 years ago from Wrightwood, California

      LYN that is amazing news--absolutely fascinating! I was not aware of that study.Christopheranton, most places in California are free of this dangerous snake, which does not live around population centers or the beaches,et (Mostly it prefers dry canyons, mountains, etc.)So come on out anyway!

    • christopheranton profile image

      Christopher Antony Meade 

      7 years ago from Gillingham Kent. United Kingdom

      Thanks for the warning.

      I wont be going anywhere near Southern California any time soon.

    • profile image

      diogenes 

      7 years ago

      The fact that several Rattlesnakes - and others of the pit viper family, either have neurotoxic and/or a combination of the two venom groups - neuro and haemotoxin, MAY indicate interbreeding somewhere in the reptile's evolution - or it may have other causes, such as local predator and defense requirements.

      There is another rattler living in Baja (islands) with the often considered more dangerous neurotoxin. Bob

    • Lyn.Stewart profile image

      Lyn.Stewart 

      7 years ago from Auckland, New Zealand

      Bill Hayes , a professor of biology at Loma Linda whose expertise includes rattlesnakes, to study the venom of the Southern Pacific. Hayes enlisted help from the University of Texas, El Paso, which is equipped to analyze venom. Researchers wondered if the Southern Pacific snake, which lives in the mountains and foothills of the Inland region, had interbred with the Mojave Green from the high desert.

      Researchers checked live Southern Pacific rattlesnakes near Mojave Green habitat that did not have neurotoxins. For comparison, they analyzed snakes in Garner Valley, far from the Mojave Green. Four were caught near Hurkey Creek, an area of superb mountain bike trails. Another was captured across Highway 74 by Lake Hemet. Surprisingly, all five contained Mojave Green-like neurotoxins. "It was totally unexpected," Hayes said.

      found this info and thought it might be pertinant

    • GarnetBird profile imageAUTHOR

      Gloria Siess 

      7 years ago from Wrightwood, California

      It has never been cited before as having any components which are turning up now. I don't know of any other rattlesnake species which has "morphed" into a neurotoxic package like this one has. ha. It's kind of alarming for those of us who encounter it frequently. I used to see one almost weekly in the Cajon Pass Area.

    • Alastar Packer profile image

      Alastar Packer 

      7 years ago from North Carolina

      Here's were I'm lacking in knowledge apparently: I was under the impression that the pit vipers(rattlers, coppers,moccasins) carried a muscular- skeletal type venom vs say the coral snakes neuro-toxin. Diogenes revelation on the S.P. Rattler having both is frankly rather stunning. The whole thing is intriguing and a bit confusing.Is the South Pacific snake the only one with this anomaly? After that's answered perhaps we can move on to another question or possibility.

    • GarnetBird profile imageAUTHOR

      Gloria Siess 

      7 years ago from Wrightwood, California

      Interesting!!

      Thank you so much for commenting and reading.

    • diogenes profile image

      diogenes 

      7 years ago from UK and Mexico

      Hi Becky. The fact that tigers and lions have bred in captivity is the point, not whether they desire to do so in the wild. Many - most - species cannot produce young with one another, in or out of captivity. It would not surprise me if certain snakes, especially from similar types, might be able to produce young...Bob

    • GarnetBird profile imageAUTHOR

      Gloria Siess 

      7 years ago from Wrightwood, California

      Wow--great comments--I see these Southern pacific Rattlers all the time. It's threatening to feel that they have morphed and somehow carry a neurotoxic venom. I removed the one photo as it might have been misrepresented on Google. I was surprised that Richard Dart conceded that they could mate. His comments if anyone is interested can be found in Scientific American. Thanks for reading! This almost sounds like Sci Fi to me and seemed very in triguing.

    • profile image

      Becky 

      7 years ago

      diogenes, the Liger is impossible in nature. They do it in zoos but they will not mate in nature. They are also sterile. Like a mule is.

    • profile image

      diogenes 

      7 years ago

      That may be true, AP, I haven't studied the genetics, but we now hear lions and tigers have born the Liger!! Bob

    • Alastar Packer profile image

      Alastar Packer 

      7 years ago from North Carolina

      Hi GarnetBird. Richard Dart needs to clarify his theory on the mating a little better. The Mojave Green and Southern Pacific can probably no more mate than Blue Jay birds and Robins; though I don't know how biologically close they are. The latest myth on the east coast has Copperheads mating with Black snakes...absolutely impossible in the wild. Very interesting article, thanks.

    • diogenes profile image

      diogenes 

      7 years ago from UK and Mexico

      ...I forgot to add that most rattlers have hemotoxic venom. The South Pacific Rattlesnake may be the only member of the species having both Hemotoxin and Neurotoxin as components of their venom, which might be one reason for their causing so many problems. There are many other factors ..Bob

    • diogenes profile image

      diogenes 

      7 years ago from UK and Mexico

      Hi Garnetbird. The envenonated thumb injury you show was the result of a Brown Recluse spider bite, not a Black Widow. The Widow bite can indeed be fatal (rare) but does not cause tissue damage like this.

      Interesting article re rattlers

    • Lyn.Stewart profile image

      Lyn.Stewart 

      7 years ago from Auckland, New Zealand

      wow that's amazing ... we don't have poisonous snakes in New Zealand ... we don't even have poisonous spiders. I will definitely read up more on snakes ~ thanks everyone for teaching me something

    • GarnetBird profile imageAUTHOR

      Gloria Siess 

      7 years ago from Wrightwood, California

      I agree!! Ten years ago I recall locals in the Cajon Pass High Desert talking about Mojaves and Pacifics mating--it almost seemed like a local folktale or legend but possibly is the actual truth as to what is happening here!

    • profile image

      Ghost32 

      7 years ago

      If the story of the Mojave green's genesis is true--and on my Hub, people have left comments that point toward that being the case--rattlers are actually capable of interbreeding with other venomous snakes (such as cobras). Which would inevitably produce a rattler with a neurotoxic venom component.

      And...doesn't that big black Sothern Pacific look less "rattler-like" and a bit more like an ultra-venomous swimming sea snake (or even a king cobra, which would certainly add to any rattler's size in subsequent generations)...???

    • AliciaC profile image

      Linda Crampton 

      7 years ago from British Columbia, Canada

      Thanks for the information. It's certainly alarming news about the new, more dangerous snake toxin. Hikers are going to have to be a lot more careful now!

    working

    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, hubpages.com uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at: https://hubpages.com/privacy-policy#gdpr

    Show Details
    Necessary
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the googleapis.com or gstatic.com domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Features
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Marketing
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Statistics
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)