Requiem for a Rattlesnake

...being a photo account of the postmortem exam of a Western Diamondback Rattlesnake, Crotalus atrox.


Nah, that's not a rattlesnake. That's Barry, my buddy for the last 20 years.

He's got his own website, check it out.



He came to visit me recently with his son, Christian, a fine young man who lives in Sweden with his mom in the winter and with his dad in Las Vegas in the summer.

Hey, Christian! The meteorologist called, you've got your schedule backwards.





They found a rattler on the road a few miles from my house. Barry, being knowledgeable about the desert, quick, brave, and slightly insane, picked it up and put it in the back of his pickup.





We met at Webb's Steakhouse for a cocktail and an impromptu photo shoot. The snake had just then been hit by a car, and it was still moving a little. Don't try this at home, they can still bite at this stage. They're reptiles; it takes 'em a while to figure it out that they're dead.





Barry wanted to keep the skin, and I wanted to examine the animal. We put the snake in the ice chest, completed cocktail hour, and conducted the procedure the next day.





First off, we wanted to get a really good look at the mouth, including the fangs. Due to their size, venom toxicity, and population numbers, rattlesnakes rank as one of the world's largest and most dangerous snakes.

This individual had a big midsection. We thought maybe he had some prey in there that he'd eaten.

















We begin with a ventral midline incision, exposing the trachea.





Very shortly we were in for a surprise. Rattlesnake babies!





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All photos © 2003 Lee Fike and Barry Tedesco. All rights reserved. Unauthorized duplication is a violation of applicable laws. Contact Lee Fike for permissions.