Pygmy Rattlesnake

Sistrurus miliarius

Summary 6

Sistrurus miliarius is a venomous pit viper species found in the southeastern United States. Three subspecies are currently recognized including the nominate subspecies described here.

Morphology 7

A tiny rattle and a skinny tail can characterize Sistrurus miliarius. The tail rarely has more than a few rattles. This combined with the fact that the rattle is so small causes the sound of the rattle to be similar to the buzzing of an insect (Conant and Collins, 1998). The average size of this relatively small snake is 12-24" (30-61cm). Sistrurus miliarius, like all members of the family Viperidae has facial pits between the nostril and the eye that detect heat energy (King, 1999). Another characteristic of S. miliarius is the nine plates that are present on the crown of its head. The background color of the Pigmy Rattlesnake can vary greatly depending on the location and subspecies. The background color can vary from shades of gray, brown, or black, to even pinkish or reddish. In all species, there is a dark line that runs vertically through the eye that looks similar to the eye of a cat. This line also extends down the side of the face. There is a series of dark, circular spots that mark the center of the back. Along the mid-body line, there is a thin reddish-orange stripe. Along each side of the body you can find dark spots similar but smaller in size than the dorsal spots.

Young Sistrurus miliarius are characterized by a sulfur yellow tip on the tail, as well as a smaller size. The rest of the colorings and markings resembles those of the adult (Farrell, 1999).

Sources and Credits

  1. (c) tom spinker, some rights reserved (CC BY-NC-ND),
  2. (c) 2011 Todd Pierson, some rights reserved (CC BY-NC),
  3. (c) 2011 Todd Pierson, some rights reserved (CC BY-NC),
  4. (c) 2011 Todd Pierson, some rights reserved (CC BY-NC),
  5. (c) 2011 Todd Pierson, some rights reserved (CC BY-NC),
  6. (c) Wikipedia, some rights reserved (CC BY-SA),
  7. (c) The Regents of the University of Michigan and its licensors, some rights reserved (CC BY-NC-SA),

More Info