Cookie Consent by - Venomous Snakes - Sonoran Desert Sidewinder


Scientific name: Crotalus cerastes cercobombus


The average size of a mature Sonoran Desert Sidewinder is 1.5 - 2 feet, with some getting as large as 2.5 feet in length.


The Sonoran Desert Sidewinder looks as if it has horns over its eyes and is sometimes called the horned rattlesnake. These horns are actually upturned scales, and are not truly horns. The body is typically a sandy tan, gray, or cream color and is patterned with dark blotches of brown or grey on the back and sides. There is a dark cheek-stripe on both sides of the head that starts at the eye and runs diagonally down and backwards above the mouthline. The tail often has a few to several rings. The end of the tail has a rattle on it.

The Sidewinder gets its name from the unique sidewinding motion it uses to move. The sidewinding motion is used to move across loose sand without slipping. The sidewinder leaves a series of J marks in the sand.

The Sonoran Desert Sidewinder has elliptical pupils that look like cat's eyes and like all pit vipers, has a heat-sensing pit between the nostril and eye on each side of its head.


In the United States, the Sonoran Desert Sidewinder is found only in Arizona.
Map of US states the Sonoran Desert Sidewinder is found in.
Map does not show area of true distribution, only the states in which there is a population.
Actual distribution in any highlighted state may be limited.

Sonoran Desert Sidewinder
Photo used by permission:
© 2011 Timothy Burkhardt

Sonoran Desert Sidewinder
Photo used by permission:
© 2001 Jeff Miller

Sonoran Desert Sidewinder
Photo used by permission:
© 2004 Mike Pingleton

For more information on venomous snakes, please see the Venomous Links page.

Terms and Conditions   |   Privacy Policy

Change your Cookies Preferences