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The Mojave Green Rattlesnake: a Neurotoxic Venom

Updated on March 2, 2013
GarnetBird profile image

Gloria taught for many years, and also worked as a mental health group facilitator.

By Gloria Siess {"Garnetbird"}

Snakes stay in the shade on hot days. This Mojave Green appears to be eating a rodent of some sort.
Snakes stay in the shade on hot days. This Mojave Green appears to be eating a rodent of some sort.
Note olive tint.
Note olive tint.
This one is brownish-beige-olive.
This one is brownish-beige-olive.
Joshua Tree Wallpaper.  Many Mojave Greens are sighted here.
Joshua Tree Wallpaper. Many Mojave Greens are sighted here.
Courtesy of The Far Side by Gary Larson.
Courtesy of The Far Side by Gary Larson.

A deadly venom

All rattlesnakes have venom and should be avoided. However the venom of the Mojave Green rattlesnake is especially toxic as it is a neurotoxin. Neurotoxins invade the body's systems in a highly efficient, rapid manner, causing massive respiratory damage. There are stories of people being bitten by these snakes and fainting on the way to the hospital, never to be revived. One particularly sad story--retold in the San Bernardino County Area--was of a teacher bitten in his tomato patch near Hesperia, California. Apparently he died before emergency services could be dispatched. The venom of the Mojave can cause severe respiratory arrest, seizures and faintings. Many underrate the severity of the wound as it does not look as serious as most rattlesnake bites. This venom packs a terrible whallop and should be treated ASAP immediately, if possible.

The range of the Mojave Green includes Kern County, San Bernardino and L.A. County (in California) plus parts of Mexico, Utah, Arizona and Southern Nevada. This species thrives in low desert and high desert areas, with dry creek beds, mesquite and catcus. It is found in Joshua Tree, California, where it can often be seen coiled by rock outcrops, surrounded by brilliant spring flowers.The female produces 2 to 11 offspring in July through August.

 Although I personally have never spotted this snake, when I hike in the Hesperia-Apple Valley area of California--not far from my house--I keep an especially alert eye open. Many Urban Legends exist about this reptile; some based on fables and some on distorted reality. It is not a shy snake, but probably is no more aggressive than, say, the Southern Pacific Rattler which I have encountered many times.

Notice in the photos that the coloration can vary from brownish-olive, to greenish-olive. Some are pale olive with a yellowish under belly, and some are dark green. Although all reptiles are somewhat beautiful and fascinating to study, this particular rattlesnake should not be sought out as the neurotoxic venom is extremely dangerous.


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    • GarnetBird profile image

      Gloria Siess 6 years ago from Wrightwood, California

      So true. By the way, you have a lovely name. I always wanted that name when I was a child.

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      Veronica 6 years ago

      I live n Tonopah, Arizona and I personally see these snakes all the time. Yes they are venom they strike fast.They are very pretty but you don't wanna get near one at all. We always have to keep our eyes open and especially me.I have a two year old that's loves to play outside.Just can't let her because of these poison snakes we have out here.

    • profile image

      Garnetbird 6 years ago

      Your comments are RIGHT ON--I hope this Hub helps to alert others as to how dangerous this venom is. Thanks for reading it!

    • woodamarc profile image

      Marc Woodard 6 years ago from Portland, Oregon

      Bad mojo... I was watching a "I Shouldn't be Alive" episode, where a county sherrif got bit by a snake like this. Could have been the same type of snake. The only thing that kept him alive was his partner (shaking him) keeping him away, a tourniquet, a strong will not to leave his family and medivac emergency care after 45min of agonizing pain/near death. It was said he had enough venom in him to kill him 10x over and most amazing he lived. Snake venom is terrible on the nervous system and other tissues. I've been up personal with a snake like this in Nevada. Glad I had a warning of sight to steer clear.

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      Garnetbird 7 years ago

      THANK you for your comments; I used to take my tarantula to classrooms as kind of a teaching tool. Have a lovely weekend!

    • spiderspun profile image

      spiderspun 7 years ago from Utopia, Ontario Canada


      They almost need Mojave Green rattlesnake antivenom in the drug store, just grab some on route to the er. I never got to see exciting stuff like that when I was in Calafornia.

      Might have been just as well, I tend to be able to make pets out of the wildest of wild poison venomus creachers/

      Well. you have a most facinating tarantula story, and gave her a good life. Tarantulas are good.

      keep in touch

      Spiderspun of Canada

    • GarnetBird profile image

      Gloria Siess 7 years ago from Wrightwood, California

      I thought that's what it was--well put, Ghost32! We have kangaroo rats here in So. California. (We just had a 3.9 quake a few minutes ago, too!)Thank you for your comments and for sharing!

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      Ghost32 7 years ago

      Solid hub, GarnetBird, direct and to the point. Judging from the tail of the victim in the top photo, I'd say it was a kangaroo rat. Since those critters can jump about 9 feet in a single leap, the Mojave was obviously an efficient stalker.