The Sidewinder is a heavy-bodied pit viper with lighter body colors and darker markings that help it blend in with its desert habitat. They have a large, triangular head with a protrusion over the eyes, making it look like they have horns. They move in a S-shaped curve, throwing their bodies to the side in order to move forward. The Sidewinder is a rattle snake and has the classic rattles on the end of their tail while also possessing venom.
Crotalus cerastes
5-10 Years
17-33” | 0.22-0.7lbs
  • Priority Species
  • Unprotected
Least Concern
  1. Washoe
  2. Humboldt
  3. Pershing
  4. Churchill
  5. Mineral
  6. Lyon
  7. Douglas
  8. Carson City
  9. Storey
  1. Elko
  2. Lander
  3. Eureka
  4. White Pine
  1. Esmeralda
  2. Nye
  3. Lincoln
  4. Clark

Habitat & Range

The Sidewinder generally prefers sandy terrain. In the Mojave Desert, snakes concentrate near sandy washes and areas of relatively dense vegetation where mammal burrows are common, though in other areas the Sidewinder has been found to be more common where vegetation is sparse.

  • Mojave desert
  • Sand Dunes
  • Warm desert riparian


  • Habitat Loss
  • Loss of Prey

Natural History

The Sidewinder preys mainly on lizards, pocket mice, kangaroo rats, and other small mammals. In many areas, lizards make up the bulk of their diet. Occasionally, a Sidewinder may take small birds and other snakes. These snakes are active foragers, but they are also known to wait for prey under brush and partially buried in sand. This snake is primarily nocturnal, but in the early spring it is active at dusk and even occasionally during the day. It sometimes ceases activity in mid-summer when temperatures are highest.
The Sidewinder is a rattlesnake and like other rattlesnakes they have live birth. Most reptiles are known for their leathery-shelled eggs, but rattlesnakes skip the eggs all together. Sidewinders give birth to between four and eleven live young. They do not receive any parental care after birth.

Fun Facts

Sidewinders have short bodies, but they have very large fangs for a rattlesnake. The raised scales above their eyes resemble horns, scientists think these ‘horns’ may help protect the snake’s eyes from the sun.