April 2015 Biodiversity Spotlight


Dusky Pygmy Rattlesnake (Sistrurus miliarius barbouri)

Photo courtesy of Lary Reeves

Dusky pygmy rattlesnakes (Sistrurus miliarius barbouri) are relatively small snakes with adults normally ranging from 12 – 24 inches in length. Other distinguishing characteristics include rounded blotches dorsally, a slender tail, and a tiny rattle. The Dusky pygmy rattlesnake has a “dusted” appearance compared with other pygmy rattlesnakes, which is how it earned its common name.

The dusky pygmy rattlesnake is a venomous species with a reputation for defending itself if harassed. Dusky pygmy rattlesnakes are sometimes confused with hognose snakes because of their similar color pattern. If you come across a snake that looks similar to a dusky pygmy rattlesnake, look for an upturned nose, presence of a rattle, and round pupils to distinguish between the two species.

Dusky pygmy rattlesnakes are often seen on the banks of canals running through marshes or prairies but occur in many areas around water. Their range includes extreme southern South Carolina through southern Georgia, all of Florida, west through southern Alabama, Mississippi and Louisiana.


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