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Crotalus durissus

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Title: Crotalus durissus  
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Crotalus durissus

Crotalus durissus
Venezuelan rattlesnake, C. d. cumanensis
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Subphylum: Vertebrata
Class: Reptilia
Order: Squamata
Suborder: Serpentes
Family: Viperidae
Subfamily: Crotalinae
Genus: Crotalus
Species: C. durissus
Binomial name
Crotalus durissus
Linnaeus, 1758
  • Crotalus Dryinas Linnaeus, 1758
  • [Crotalus] Durissus Linnaeus, 1758
  • Caudisona orientalis Laurenti, 1768
  • Caudisona Gronovii Laurenti, 1768
  • Crotalus orientalis - Gmelin, 1788
  • Crotalus strepitans var. dryinas - Daudin, 1803
  • [Urocrotalon] durissus - Fitzinger, 1843
  • Uropsophus durissus - Gray, 1849
  • Crotalus durissus - Boulenger, 1896
  • Crotalus pulvis Ditmars, 1905
  • [Crotalus] terrificus durissus - Amaral, 1929
  • Crotalus terrificus durissus - Amaral, 1929
  • [Crotalus] Gronovii - Klauber, 1936
  • Crotalus durissus dryinus - Hoge, 1966
  • Crotalus (Crotalus) durissus dryinus - J. Peters & Orejas-Miranda, 1970[1][2]
Common names: South American rattlesnake,[1] tropical rattlesnake,[3] more.

Crotalus durissus is a venomous pit viper species found in South America. The most widely distributed member of its genus,[1] this species poses a serious medical problem in many parts of its range.[1] Currently, nine subspecies are recognized, including the nominate subspecies described here.[4]


This large Neotropical rattlesnake grows to a length of 1.5 m (4.9 ft), and rarely to a maximum length of 1.9 m (6.2 ft).[1] It has two distinct stripes starting at the base of the head. Within the lines, the color is lighter than the stripes.

Common names

Common names for this species include: South American rattlesnake,[1] tropical rattlesnake,[3] neotropical rattlesnake,[5] Guiana rattlesnake (previously used for C. d. dryinus).[6] and in Spanish: víbora de cascabel, cascabel, cascabela, and cascavel.[1] In Suriname it's known as Sakasneki.[7]

Geographic range

C. durissus is found in South America except the Andes Mountains. However, its range is discontinuous,[1] with many isolated populations in northern South America, including Colombia, Venezuela, Guyana, Suriname, French Guiana and northern Brazil. It occurs in Colombia and eastern Brazil to southeastern Peru, Bolivia, Paraguay, Uruguay, and northern Argentina (Catamarca, Córdoba, Corrientes, Chaco, Entre Rios, Formosa, La Pampa, La Rioja, Mendoza, Misiones, San Juan, San Luis, Santa Fe, Santiago del Estero and Tucumán).[2] Also, it occurs on some islands in the Caribbean, including Morro de la Iguana, Tamarindo and Aruba.[1] The type locality given is "America."[2]


It prefers savanna and semi-arid zones. It has been reported to occur in littoral xerophilous scrub, psammophilous and halophilous littoral grassland, thorny xerophilous scrub, tropophilous deciduous and semidesciduous scrub, as well as tropophilous semidesciduous seasonal forest in the northwest of Venezuela. In the Chaco region of Paraguay, it is found in the drier, sandier areas.[1]


C. d. terrificus in Avaré, São Paulo, Brazil

Bite symptoms are very different from those of Nearctic species[8] due to the presence of neurotoxins (crotoxin and crotamine) that cause progressive paralysis.[1] Bites from C. d. terrificus in particular can result in impaired vision or complete blindness, auditory disorders, ptosis, paralysis of the peripheral muscles, especially of the neck, which becomes so limp as to appear broken, and eventually life-threatening respiratory paralysis. The ocular disturbances, are sometimes followed by permanent blindness.[8] Phospholipase A2 neurotoxins also cause damage to skeletal muscles and possibly the heart, causing general aches, pain, and tenderness throughout the body. Myoglobin released into the blood results in dark urine. Other serious complications may result from systemic disorders (incoagulable blood and general spontaneous bleeding), hypotension, and shock.[1] Hemorrhagins may be present in the venom, but any corresponding effects are completely overshadowed by the startling and serious neurotoxic symptoms.[8]


The Guiana rattlesnake, previously recognized as C. d. dryinus,[2] is now considered a synonym for C. d. durissus. In fact, after the previous nominate subspecies for the C. d. durissus complex became the current nominate for C. simus, which now represents its Mexican and Central American members, C. d. dryinus became the new nominate for the South American rattlesnakes as represented by C. durissus.[1] The subspecies previously known as C. d. collilineatus and C. d. cascavella were moved to the synonymy of C. d. terrificus following the publication of a paper by Wüster et al. in 2005.


Subspecies[ref 1] Taxon author[ref 1] Common name Geographic range
C. d. cumanensis Humboldt, 1833 Venezuelan rattlesnake[ref 2] Dry lowlands of Venezuela and Colombia
C. d. durissus Linnaeus, 1758 South American rattlesnake[ref 3] Coastal savannas of Guyana, French Guyana and Suriname
C. d. marajoensis Hoge, 1966 Marajon rattlesnake[ref 4] Known only from Marajo Island, Para State, Brazil
C. d. maricelae García Pérez, 1995 Bolson arido de Lagunillas, Estado Merida, Venezuela
C. d. ruruima Hoge, 1966 Known from the slopes of Mount Roraima and Mount Cariman-Perú in Venezuela (Bolívar). A few specimens have been recorded in Brazil (Roraima).[ref 3]
C. d. terrificus (Laurenti, 1768) Cascavel[ref 2] Brazil south of the Amazonian forests, extreme southeastern Peru, Bolivia, Paraguay, Uruguay, northern Argentina
C. d. trigonicus Harris & Simmons, 1978 Inland savannas of Guyana
C. d. unicolor Lidth de Jeude, 1887 Aruba Island rattlesnake[ref 5] Aruba Island, off the coast of Venezuela.[ref 5]
C. d. vegrandis Klauber, 1941 Uracoan rattlesnake[ref 5] Venezuela in Monagas.[ref 5]
  1. ^ a b "Crotalinae".  
  2. ^ a b Mehrtens JM. 1987. Living Snakes of the World in Color. New York: Sterling Publishers. 480 pp. ISBN 0-8069-6460-X.
  3. ^ a b Campbell JA, Lamar WW. 2004. The Venomous Reptiles of the Western Hemisphere. Comstock Publishing Associates, Ithaca and London. 870 pp. 1500 plates. ISBN 0-8014-4141-2.
  4. ^ Brown JH. 1973. Toxicology and Pharmacology of Venoms from Poisonous Snakes. Springfield, Illinois: Charles C. Thomas. 184 pp. LCCCN 73-229. ISBN 0-398-02808-7.
  5. ^ a b c d Klauber LM. 1997. Rattlesnakes: Their Habitats, Life Histories, and Influence on Mankind. Second Edition. 2 volumes. Reprint, University of California Press, Berkeley. ISBN 0-520-21056-5.

See also


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m Jonathan A. Campbell; William W. Lamar; Edmund D. Brodie (2004). The venomous reptiles of the Western Hemisphere. p. 1500.  
  2. ^ a b c d Roy W. MacDiarmid (1999). Snake Species of the World.  
  3. ^ a b Mehrtens JM. 1987. Living Snakes of the World in Color. New York: Sterling Publishers. 480 pp. ISBN 0-8069-6460-X.
  4. ^ "Crotalus durissus".  
  5. ^ U.S. Navy. 1991. Poisonous Snakes of the World. US Govt. New York: Dover Publications Inc. 203 pp. ISBN 0-486-26629-X.
  6. ^ Brown JH. 1973. Toxicology and Pharmacology of Venoms from Poisonous Snakes. Springfield, Illinois: Charles C. Thomas. 184 pp. LCCCN 73-229. ISBN 0-398-02808-7.
  7. ^
  8. ^ a b c Laurence Monroe Klauber (1997). Rattlesnakes: Their Habits, Life Histories, and Influence on Mankind, Second Edition. University of California Press.  

Further reading

  • Alvaro ME. 1939. Snake Venom in Ophthalmology. Am. Jour. Opth., Vol. 22, No. 10, pp. 1130–1145.
  • Wüster W, Ferguson JE, Quijada-Mascareñas JA, Pook CE, Salomão MG, Thorpe RS. 2005. Tracing an invasion: landbridges, refugia and the phylogeography of the Neotropical rattlesnake (Serpentes: Viperidae: Crotalus durissus). Molecular Ecology 14: 1095-1108. PDF at Wolfgang Wüster. Accessed 28 August 2007.
  • Wüster W, Ferguson JE, Quijada-Mascareñas JA, Pook CE, Salomão MG, Thorpe RS. 2005. No rattlesnakes in the rainforests: reply to Gosling and Bush. Molecular Ecology, 14: 3619-3621. PDF at Wolfgang Wüster. Accessed 28 August 2007.
  • Quijada-Mascareñas A, JE Ferguson, CE Pook, MG Salomão, RS Thorpe, & W Wüster. 2007. Phylogeographic patterns of Trans-Amazonian vicariants and Amazonian biogeography: The Neotropical rattlesnake (Crotalus durissus complex) as an example. Journal of Biogeography 34: 1296–1312.

External links

  • Crotalus durissus at the Reptile Database. Accessed 19 August 2007.
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