TAP to call us any time, day or night.

Phoenix 24-Hour Hotline


Tucson 24-Hour Hotline



Rattlesnake Solutions LLC Logo

Snakes of Arizona

Phoenix 24/7 Hotline:


Tucson 24/7 Hotline:


Year-round warm temperatures and an incredibly diverse landscape make Arizona a reptile paradise. Home to over 50 species of native snakes, and many more varieties of lizards and desert-loving amphibians, it isn't difficult to find them even in your own backyard.

This is certainly not a complete list of all of the snakes found in Arizona, but the commonly seen snakes - animals that we've relocated or are asked to identify as they are seen in the outdoors. If you're unsure of what you have seen, email us and we'll identify it for you.


Western Diamondback Rattlesnake

Crotalus atrox

The Western Diamondback Rattlesnake is the most commonly encountered snake in the Phoenix area, and can be found anywhere where neighborhoods get close to native desert habitat. These are also sometimes called “coon-tail” rattlesnakes. They can be identified by the rattle, white and black striped tail, and white-lined diamond pattern on the back. Coloration is usually drab shades of brown or grey. They are often mistaken for the Mojave Rattlesnake. A large adult diamondback in our area would be in the 3.5’ to 4’ range, with most being smaller. They are generally quick to be defensive, and quite venomous, so keep your distance and leave it alone if encountered.


Southwestern Speckled Rattlesnake

Crotalus pyrrhus

Speckled Rattlesnakes live in rocky areas near mountains or hillsides. They’re common in the Camelback Mountain region, South Mountain area, and other parts of the valley adjacent to similar habitat. The Speckled Rattlesnakes is highly variable in color, from a white/grey in the South Mountain and White Tanks areas, brown in North Phoenix, and orange and red going North into Cave Creek and the Anthem areas. They have a loosely banded pattern that is highly flecked to resemble granite within their habitat, and are usually small, with adults being typically around 2’ in length. They have a highly toxic bite and should always be left alone when seen.


Northern Blacktailed Rattlesnake

Crotalus molossus molossus

The Blacktailed Rattlesnake lives in mountainous areas and surrounding foothills, and are more rarely found in flat desert areas in between. They are often mistaken for Mojave Rattlesnakes by vacationers, being a common sight near Sedona and other popular tourist areas. The Blacktailed Rattlesnake found near Phoenix is mostly brown, tinted with yellow, orange, or green. Unlikle other large-bodied rattlesnakes in the area, they have a solid black tail area just before the rattle, as opposed to rings or stripes. They are usually calm, but will stand their ground when threatened. They should always be left alone if encountered.


Tiger Rattlesnake

Crotalus tigris

The Tiger Rattlesnake lives in many of the same rocky, mountainous areas as the Speckled Rattlesnake. They are seldom seen, but live in most of the Phoenix mountain areas and desert parks. The Tiger Rattlesnake is often confused with the Speckled Rattlesnake, but can be easily identified by the unusually small head and overly large rattle. The banding is more apparent throughout the body, which is usually grey with varying degrees of pink, orange, or brown. This is a small rattlesnake, reaching a size of about 2.5 feet. The Tiger Rattlesnake has an unusually potent venom and should always be left alone if encountered.


Arizona Black Rattlesnake

Crotalus cerberus

The Arizona Black Rattlesnake is sometimes mistakenly referred to as “Timber Rattlesnake” throughout it’s range due to generally being found at higher altitudes in wooded areas. They are commonly seen in mountains North of Phoenix. This is a thick-bodied, large rattlesnake. Coloration is light as a young snake, being tan or grey with brown circles down the back. A the snake matures, it will darken to a deep brown color to completely black. They can also change color to some degree, becoming more light or dark depending on various circumstances. This snake can deliver a large amount of highly toxic venom and should be left alone if encountered.


Sonoran Sidewinder

Crotalus cerastes cercobombus

Sidewinders have a famous name and are extremely common where they are found, yet are quite uncommon to see for most. They live in flat, sandy scrubland desert, and avoid rocky areas and hills. They're very small snakes, reaching an adult size of only around 2 feet. They can be most easily identified by their distinct sideways motion (sidewinding), where the snake throws a loop of its body forward and pulls the rest along rather quickly. They also have two very visible 'horns' above the eyes, which helps the sidewinder live in sandy environments. Although they are small, this snake can give a very bad bite and should never be bothered.


Mojave Rattlesnake

Crotalus scutulatus

The mojave, or "mojave green" as people like to say, is often confused for the similar-looking western diamondback, and visa versa. The mojave is very commonly seen in flat, sandy desertscrub areas, and less likely seen in mountainous or rocky regions. It's a large snake, reaching about 4' in length as an adult. It can be distinquished from the western diamondback by the striping on the tail. The mojave's stripes are 2:1 white to black, while the diamondback are 50:50 white to black. The mojave also has a generally more 'clean' appearance, with more distinct diamonds and less black speckling throughout the body. This snake has a reputation of being an overly dangerous snake, as it is quick to become defensive and has a powerful neurotoxin. These snakes should always be avoided if seen.


Twin-Spotted Rattlesnake

Crotalus pricei

The Twin Spotted Rattlesnake is a very small, grey, blue-grey, or tan rattlesnake from the highest elevations of South East Arizona. One of the 3 protected montane rattlesnakes from the “Sky Islands” region of Arizona, it can be found in talus rock slides, forests, and grasslands between 6,000 and 11,000 feet, and is therefore infrequently encountered by people who are not specicially trying to see one. The tiny rattle creates an insect-like sound that can only be heard in close proximity. Due to superficial similarities in appearance, the unrelated Desert Nightsnake is often misidentified as a Twin Spotted Rattlesnake by concerned home owners searching online.


Banded Rock Rattlesnake

Crotalus lepidus klauberi

The banded rock rattlesnake is a small, specialized species of rattlesnake that lives in the mountainous “sky islands” region of extreme Southeastern Arizona. As its name implies, it is found in association with rocky areas, canyons, and woodland with sun-exposed outcroppings. The banded rock rattlesnake usually has a grey base coloration, and a series of black bands, sometimes with a very bright teal or green outline. Males can be be green, often nearly metallic in appearance, with varying amounts of pink or blue-grey. Protected throughout its limited range in Arizona, this snake should be avoided.


Desert Massasauga

Sistrurus catenatus edwardsii

The Desert Massasauga is the lone representative of the Sistrurus genus in Arizona, making it the most distantly related of all rattlesnake species in the state. It is small, usually tan, grey, or brown, and may superficially resemble a Prairie Rattlesnake to an untrained eye. In Arizona, the remaining tobosa grass habitat of the Massasauga is in decline due to development and grazing of cattle. While isolated populations continue to exist, numbers are in decline and eventual extirpation is likely. The Desert Massasauga is protected in Arizona from all forms of collection and harrassment, though habitat-conservation is likely the only means of saving this species in our state.


Great Basin Rattlesnake

Crotalus lutosus

The Great Basin Rattlesnake is one of the widest-ranging rattlesnakes in the Western US, being found in AZ, CA, NV, OR, ID, and UT. In AZ, this snake is only found in the extreme North Western Great Basin desert and Arizona Strip regions, up to 8,000 feet in elevation. The “smudge” on the head is an easy differentiator between this snake and the Grand Canyon and Midged Faded rattlesnakes. Extremely variable in color and pattern, they can be found in brilliant yellow, nearly black-and-white, brown, grey, and appear nearly patternless to high-contrast black and gold - all within the same community. This snake can top out at lengths of 5’ in rare instances, but most adults end up in the 3’-3.5’ range.


Grand Canyon Rattlesnake

Crotalus abyssus

The grand canyon rattlesnake, a formerly considered a subspecies of Western rattlesnake, is a medium-sized rattlesnake that can only be found within the Grand Canyon and Glen Canyon areas of Northern Arizona. The grand canyon rattlesnake is tan, yellowish, or pink in color; a good match for the colorful rocky areas that make up the majority of its range. This snake has a pattern of irregular blotches along the back, often with a dark brown outline. When born, the pattern is highly contrasted, but fades as the snake grows. Mature adults can appear to be all but patternless.


Midget Faded Rattlesnake

Crotalus concolor

This small and elusive rattlesnake just barely makes it across the northern Arizona border. Restricted to a handful of canyons and drainages, most of its habitat lies beneath Lake Powell. They are the smallest species of the former Western Rattlesnake complex, reaching an adult size of under 2 feet. As adults, they are usually tan, yellow, orange, or brown in color, with a minimized pattern that can fade into a nearly patternless appearance, as the name suggests. The Midget Faded Rattlesnake is also notable for its particularly potent neurotoxic venom, referred to as “concolor toxin”.


Prairie Rattlesnake

Crotalus viridis

The Prairie Rattlesnake, (or Hopi Rattlesnake, depending on the area) is a wide-spread and extremely variable species, found in the North Eastern portions of Arizona, East of the Colorado River. Color, size, and pattern can vary greatly between communities, from small orange or reddish variants, or “Hopi” variety, to large-bodied, green, tan, or brown individuals. In Arizona, they are mostly found at higher elevations, between 4’500’ and 9,000’, inhabiting nearly every habitat type within their range. The Prairie Rattlesnake can be identified by the characteristically narrow light-colored facial stripes, and dorsal blotches that are often outlined oval or bow-tie shapes. They are often misidentifed as “Mojave Green” rattlesnakes in New Mexico and Northern Arizona.


Gila Monster

Heloderma suspectum

The gila monster is one of the most iconic animals of the Sonoran desert. It lives across Arizona’s desert and grassland regions below the Mogollon rim, and is common throughout its range, despite being rarely seen on the surface. The gila monster is often confused with other large, desert lizards, such as the chuckwalla and desert iguana, but can be easily distinguished by it’s high-contrast black and yellow pattern. Although highly venomous, they should not be considered dangerous. Slow-moving and non-aggressive, bites are easily avoided simply by not approaching or attacking one when encountered. They are protected by state law and should always be left alone.


Sonoran Gophersnake

Pituophis catenifer

Next to the western diamondback, this is the most commonly snake seen in Arizona. This is not only due to it being incredibly common, but also because it has adapted very well to life in the city. They can be found on golfcourses, parks, alleyways, and back yards throughout the city. They can be very large, with adults commonly exceeding 5' or more in length. They are often mistaken for rattlesnakes because of their superficial likeness, and tendency to quickly become defensive when approached. They will open their mouths to hiss, and even rattle their striped tail while striking out towards a perceived threat. While they are not at all venomous, they may bite if handled, the worst result being a few cuts on the hand. They are great pest control (which can actually help keep other, venomous species away), and are great to have around for that reason.


Desert Nightsnake

Hypsiglena chlorophaea

Nightsnakes are the most common snake to see inside of the home, in our experience. They are great at getting into small cracks and even get through pipes, and end up on kitchen counters, in bathroom sinks, and all kinds of surprising places. They are very small, generally less than a foot long, and are often mistaken as baby rattlesnakes due to their triangular head and vertical eye slits. In fact, they are completely harmless, and it would be a challenge to try to get one to try and bite. When they are scared, they coil into a tight ball and hide their head under the body. They eat scorpions, spiders, and are great to have around the yard.


California Kingsnake

Lampropeltis getula

The California Kingsnake is usually identified by the stark white and black, or yellow and black, banding that runs the length of the body. However, they are very often confused with baby Longnosed Snakes, which have a very similar pattern. The Kingsnake’s head shape is slightly different, with a more rounded appearance. The banding is also more complete at the sides, where a Longnosed Snake’s bands may include blotches of white or grey on each side. Kingsnakes are medium-sized, harmless snakes. Adults in the Phoenix area are commonly in the 3′ range, with exceptional animals approaching 4′. They are often found as babies during August and September, having found their way into garages and homes. They are generally considered as beneficial snakes, regardless of fondness for snakes, since they regularly prey on rattlesnakes. The presence of a Kingsnake on a property may help deter or eliminate rattlesnakes.


Sonoran Mountain Kingsnake

Lampropeltis pyromelana

The Sonoran Mountain Kingsnake is a seldom-seen, non-venomous snake found in higher elevation mountainous woodlands throughout Arizona. It can also be found in rocky canyons, riparian areas, and transitional grasslands adjacent to heavily forrested areas. The light-colored, squared nose can be used to distinguish this snake from the rounded, dark snount of the milksnake. More distantly, it is sometimes mistaken for a coralsnake. It is an eater of lizards, as well as small mammals, and birds. Unlike other kingsnakes, other snakes are not on the menu for this species. The Sonoran Mountain Kingsnake is a harmless constrictor that is not cause for alarm if seen.


Sonoran Lyresnake

Trimorphodon lambda

The Sonoran Lyresnake is a very thin, snake found throughout the desert regions of Arizona. It is called a “lyre” snake because head markings that resemble a lyre harp. It is nocturnal, and rarely seen. The lyresnake eats primarily lizards, and also preys on small rodents, bats, and birds. Though venomous, it constricts prey while venom is delivered by a chewing action. This snake is mildly venomous and not considered dangerous, but should still not be handled when encountered. Bites may cause irritation and pain, but do not require hospitalization and have no long-lasting effect. .