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How Poisonous Is a Sidewinder Snake?

Updated November 21, 2016

The desert sidewinder (Crotalus cerastes) is a venomous pit viper native to the deserts of southwestern United States and northern Mexico. Like all rattlesnakes, sidewinders have a potent hemotoxic venom that can be fatal to humans if a bite does not receive immediate medical attention.

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Sidewinders are small rattlesnakes that have an average body length of 30 inches; females are commonly larger than males. Sidewinders have a sandy brown colouration with a dark back divided by light colour bands. Sidewinders have hornlike scales above each eye, which is why they are also commonly called horned rattlesnakes.


Sidewinders posses a venom that is less toxic than other desert rattlesnakes. In addition, due to their small size, sidewinders only inject a small amount of venom into their prey. According to the University of Michigan, sidewinders are only life-threatening to animals below 13.6 Kilogram.


Although sidewinders may not pose a lethal threat to humans, they are dangerous. Sidewinders are one of the fastest rattlesnakes, and a bite can cause permanent damage and serious pain. The best way to deal with a sidewinder in the wild is to leave it alone.

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