There are around 30 species and several subspecies of rattlesnake. They belong to the family Viperidae and sub family Crotalinae that consists of pit vipers. The tiger rattlesnake is one of the most poisonous species in this sub family.
The most striking feature of a tiger rattlesnake (Crotalus tigris) is its small head and large rattle. In fact, the tiger rattlesnake has the smallest head, as compared to other rattlesnake species. This snake has stripes on its body, and hence the name.
Adult tiger rattlesnake may have around 35 to 55 cross bands on the dorsal part of its body. Such irregular cross bands are found to be gray or brown in color and are wider dorsally than on the sides. The color of a tiger rattlesnake may vary as they can be gray, bluish gray, lavender, or buff-colored. Laterally, they may be orange, pink or cream in color.
When compared to most of the other rattlesnake species, tiger rattlesnakes are shorter and adults grow to a maximum average length of 60 centimeters. Being a member of the pit viper family, tiger rattlesnakes have heat sensing pits between their eyes and nostrils and this feature helps them in detecting warm-blooded prey.
These snakes have a slender neck and big rattles that are made of loose keratinous parts. Each time the snake sheds its skin, a new keratinous part is added to its rattle. Unlike similar-looking snakes, like the speckled rattlesnake, Crotalus tigris does not have black rings on the tip of its tail.
These snakes with keeled scales are considered to be secretive in nature and are found to be active both day and night. Their diet includes small mammals, lizards, and mice. They are usually found in the southwestern parts of the United States and northwest Mexico.
Tiger rattlesnake habitat includes the dry, rocky areas of desert foot hills and canyons that are located at elevations ranging between 1,000 to 5,000 feet. It is very rare to find these snakes out of their natural habitat.
This snake is said to be one of the most venomous species of rattlesnakes. Even though not much is known about tiger rattlesnake venom, some studies suggest that it contains myotoxins and neurotoxins that are similar to Mojave toxin. In case of tiger rattlesnakes, the yield of venom is very less, but the toxicity is very high.
In fact, the tiger rattlesnake is said to be the most venomous snake in the Western Hemisphere. Very little information is available about their bite symptoms. Usually such incidents happen while handling or abusing the animal. So if you sustain tiger rattlesnake bites, it is always better to seek immediate medical attention.
In case, you come across this snake, stay away from it and if the snake is found in human inhabited areas, contact the authorities at the earliest.