comm. Natural Regions and Subregions of Alberta. Copeia, 1989/3: 791-794.  2014. Prairie rattlesnakes hare independent upon hatching and reach sexual maturity after 2 to 3 years. Stewart, L. 2013. Assuming that the sample of hibernacula studied since the 1990s is representative of all Canadian locations, that current threats continue unabated, and that rates of decline are high (e.g., Proctor et al. 2008). comm. “It's not easy to get sympathy for a rattlesnake,” said Puchniak. 2011a. 1998. There is evidence for this occurring in other large-bodied snakes. Venomous snakebites in the United States: Management review and update. 27 pp. Topics [Projected or suspected] percent [reduction or increase] in total number of mature individuals over the next [10 years, or 3 generations]. Dept. Assuming two thirds of these are mature individuals (see BIOLOGY), this amounts to 593 (no confidence interval reported) adults. 2014). CFB Suffield and Suffield National Wildlife Area Cooperative Reptile and Amphibian Studies. MacKenzie, J. (Note: Formerly described as “Vulnerable” from 1990 to 1999, or “Rare” prior to 1990. The contemporary distribution of the Prairie Rattlesnake in Canada (i.e., extent of occurrence) has probably been relatively stable over the last three generations (~40 years, 1973-2013). Rattlesnake venom poisoning in horses: 32 cases (1973-1993). Macartney, M., P. Gregory. comm. It is unclear whether geographically isolated snakes along the Frenchman River in southern Saskatchewan remain demographically and genetically connected to those along the Milk River in southern Alberta via exchange with populations in Montana (e.g., Greater Sage-grouse, Centrocercus urophasianus: Bush et al. The Influence of female reproductive status on thermoregulation in a viviparous snake, Crotalus viridis. 1989. Temperate Grasslands Conservation Initiative, World Commission on Protected Areas, IUCN, North Vancouver, BC. ecosystem. Biological Conservation 130: 206-216. [accessed Feb. 2013]. Prairie dogs play an important role in the ecosystem. Source: A. Martinson. 1999) and the likelihood of associated population declines. Growth and reproductive rates of a northern population of the Prairie Rattlesnake, Crotalus v. viridis. Assessing population size and den use of Prairie Rattlesnakes (Crotalus viridis viridis) in southern Saskatchewan. W-13.12 - The Wildlife Act, 1998. These snakes are nocturnal when daytime ambient temperatures are extremely hot. comm. Generation Time = age at maturity + [1 / annual adult mortality rate]. Awareness of the protection afforded by legislation should act as sufficient deterrent to vandalism or trophy hunting by most persons. For example, from 1991 - 2006 close to 75% of grasslands (primarily pasture land) in southwestern Lethbridge was directly lost to urban development, with many newer community developments being located directly adjacent to known Prairie Rattlesnake hibernacula and migratory routes (Ernst 2002; Ernst and Quinlan 2006). Web Site: http://www.leaderpost.com/business/Community+pastures+still+divisive/8716230/story.html [accessed Nov. 2013]. No confidence intervals were provided. Bowler, K., A. Snider. Alberta Sustainable Resource Development, Fish and Wildlife Division, Edmonton, AB. 2012. 1998. Land ownership within the Canadian range of the Prairie Rattlesnake is varied. Since 2003, the Alberta Volunteer Amphibian Monitoring Program has encouraged submissions of incidental observations of reptiles and their hibernacula (AESRD and ACA 2012). Would immigrants be adapted to survive in Canada? (2009) identified a potential link between a 50% decline in abundance of Prairie Rattlesnakes at a hibernaculum and a very rapid increase in the number of gas wells drilled within a 15 km radius of the site; however, they did identify other potential causes for the apparent decline such as variation in sampling efficiency and the unlikely event of shifting den use. Highway upgrades and expansions continue to be proposed within Prairie Rattlesnake range, potentially increasing road mortality and fragmentation. 2000. These include the Bow, Oldman, Red Deer and South Saskatchewan rivers (South Saskatchewan River drainage; Figure 3), and the Milk (Figure 4) and Frenchman rivers (Missouri River drainage). Although habitat loss due to cultivation has slowed dramatically (see Habitat Trends), direct mortality and associated population isolation are ongoing threats across the cultivated landscape. Dickinson, C. E., J. L. Traub-Dargatz, D. A. Dargatz, D. G. Bennett and A. P. Knight. Because of the dumbbell-shaped home ranges characteristic of the species (see Biology), kernels are probably better estimators of the actual area used within a home range (e.g., 12 - 15 ha) than are minimum convex polygons (Gardiner 2012; 2013). Provincial parks in Alberta that have Prairie Rattlesnakes include Dinosaur Provincial Park and Writing-on-Stone Provincial Park (see Habitat Protection and Ownership). Martinson, A. Molecular Ecology 2010(19): 5345 – 5358. 2013), Adult/sub-adult sex ratio (males : females), Canada: (Macartney and Weichel 1993; Kissner et al. This equates to an Alberta EOO and IAO of approximately 59% and 97%, respectively, of the Canadian estimates. 1989. Hofman, E., pers. (Hons) in Environmental Science with a Minor in Biology (2006) from the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, and a Master’s of Environmental Design (2009) from the University of Calgary. Predators of these rattlesnakes include red-shouldered hawks (Buteo lineatus), and greater roadrunners (Geococcyx californianus). Contrarily, ‘percent of bare ground’ was negatively associated with snake use (Gardiner 2012). The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. 1998). Kardong, K., K. Rochelle. For example, cumulative landscape fragmentation, and associated degradation, was found to be increasing due to continued oil and gas development in southwestern Saskatchewan (Swift Current Webb Community Pasture: Nasen et al. Didiuk, A. 2007. Female reproductive cycles of the snakes Arizona elegans and Crotalus viridis. Also, the Prairie Rattlesnake is not listed under Appendix I, II or III of the Convention on the International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES 2013). 493. Summary of most likely threats faced by Prairie Rattlesnakes (Crotalus viridis) in Canada according to the categories provided in the IUCN Threats Classification Scheme (IUCN 2013). Prairie Rattlesnake are generally classified into three age classes based on SVL, colour and number of rattles: neonate, juvenile and adult, but aging protocols vary among investigators (see Andrus 2010 for aging protocols used in Canada). The Prairie Rattlesnake is a venomous snake that can inflict a painful and potentially deadly bite upon people, pets and livestock (Dickinson et al. Zug, G., C. Ernst. Spatial ecology of prairie rattlesnakes (Crotalus viridis) associated with black-tailed prairie dog (Cynomys ludovicianus) colonies in Colorado. As a result, an attempt was made here to update the Saskatchewan abundance estimates originally presented by Macartney and Weichel (1993) using two approaches. 20 pp. Alberta Species at Risk Report. Prairie Rattlesnake (Crotalus viridis viridis) from Dinosaur Provincial Park. Baltimore, MD: The Johns Hopkins Press. comm. Two recent acquisitions by these groups have confirmed Prairie Rattlesnake hibernacula onsite (AESRD and ACA 2012). Size and winter survivorship in neonatal western rattlesnakes (Crotalus viridis). comm. Federally owned land within the range of the Prairie Rattlesnake (Crotalus viridis) in Canada. Adapted from Saskatchewan NAWMP Partnership (2008), Image used with permission. Government of Canada. 2013. Wright, C. K. and M. C. Wimberly. Source: Leinberger (2012), Image used with permission. Evaluating attitudes and behaviour towards Prairie Rattlesnakes in southeastern Alberta. In addition to contributing to direct mortality and population declines, roads may also act as complete dispersal barriers for Prairie Rattlesnakes. Molecular systematics of the Western Rattlesnake, Crotalus viridis (Viperidae), with comments on the utility of the D-loop in phylogenetic studies of snakes. Photo illustrating sandy, sparsely grass-covered Prairie Rattlesnake habitat in southern Saskatchewan. Shipley, B., D. Chiszar, K. Fitzgerald, A. Saviola. Graves, B. SARA establishes COSEWIC as an advisory body ensuring that species will continue to be assessed under a rigorous and independent scientific process. Under this act, it is prohibited within National Parks to: 1) carry out any action that unreasonably interferes with fauna, or 2) traffic in any wild animal. The female snakes are scarce because only about 31% of female snakes are in heat during each mating period. If biennial female reproduction is assumed, age at time of first litter is 6 years and maximum age of breeding is 17.5 years. 2013. Hibernacula are mostly associated with south- or east-facing slopes of major river drainages and consist of features which allow access to a suitable subterranean environment. Young Prairie Rattlesnakes (neonates and juveniles) are presumed to suffer relatively high natural mortality rates (Gannon and Secoy 1984; Macartney and Weichel 1993 and sources therein; Andrus 2010 and sources therein) with annual survivorship increasing steadily with increasing age/body size (Macartney 1985, as cited by Macartney and Weichel 1993). Alberta Species at Risk Report No. 226 pp. (Linzey, 2012; Macartney, et al., 1990; Shine and Charnov, 1992), Prairie rattlesnakes have a mating season of about 7 weeks between July-September. Canadian Wildlife Service, Environment Canada, Saskatoon, SK. The chaparrals have various amounts of shrubs and vegetation that can be used to help prairie rattlesnakes be camouflaged for hunting. ("COSEWIC assessment and status report on the Prairie Rattlesnake Crotalus viridis in Canada", 2015; Aldridge and Sever, 2011; Linzey, 2012; Stebbins, 2003), Once female prairie rattlesnakes lay the eggs, they guard the eggs by coiling up around them. Guidelines for Recognizing Designatable Units. 103. Estimates exclude two recent observations from Drumheller not yet vouched by professionals (see Canadian Range). Why rattle snake. comm. The following is a press release from the CDFW: With the coming of spring and warmer weather conditions, snakes of many species are through hunkering down, making human encounters with these elusive creatures more likely. Note that the actual rate of habitat loss could be slightly higher due to unaccounted losses from oil and gas drilling, urbanization and road construction (see Threats and Limiting Factors). comm. 1988. The length of hibernation is dependent on location. The American Naturalist, 139/6: 1257-1269. Two estimation methods were used (see Table 3 for data): Extensive summary of litter size and age of maturity in USA is provided by Fitch (1998). comm. Males have a growth rate of 535 mm in 3 to 4 years while females grow 650 mm from 5 to 7 years. Conservation Genetics 12(2): 527-542. 2013; Larsen pers. Snakes: The Smithsonian Answer Book, Second Edition. Email correspondence to J. Choquette. (Chiszar, et al., 1978; Chiszar, et al., 1983; Cooper, 1993; Daghfous, et al., 2012; Gillingham and Clark, 1981; Newman and Hartline, 1982; Shine and Mason, 2012). (2) The rattlesnake population would start to increase. The Prairie Rattlesnake is a heavy-bodied pit viper that is generally tan in colour, with darker bands or blotches along its back and anterior dark tail rings which are usually olive to brown (Figure 1; Klauber 1997). On CFB Suffield, wells are buried below ground in caissons to enable above-ground military training exercises. In 2012, for example, the Alberta EOO and IAO for this species were estimated at 46,012 km2 and 2,244 km2, respectively (AESRD and ACA 2012; estimates were made using similar methods to those used by COSEWIC). comm. 56 pp. The total population size of the Prairie Rattlesnake in Canada is estimated to be at least 22,300 (20,400 – 28,300) individuals, which is estimated to consist of at least 14,900 (13,600 – 18,900) adults. Adults attain an average snout-vent length of 120 cm, and an average mass of 1000 g. Like all rattlesnakes, this species has a segmented rattle at the end of its tail, two heat sensing pits below its eyes and two retractable fangs in its upper jaw. 2013. The teeth can range from 0.56 to 0.99 cm in length. At Grasslands National Park, where snakes display a relatively wide range of migration distances (compared to Lethbridge snakes, Table 1), average home range sizes and lengths were 109.3 ha (ranging from 62.4 – 156.4 ha) and 2.8 km (ranging from 0.5 – 11.1 km), respectively. Email correspondence to Adam Martinson. Even venomous snakes have a role to play in Colorado’s ecosystem and are part of our state’s natural heritage. St. Mary River and Milk River Watershed Boundaries (JPG; 1.1 MB). Globally, the Prairie Rattlesnake extent of occurrence, area of occupancy, number of subpopulations, and population size are probably relatively stable or declining at a rate of less than 10% over three generations (NatureServe 2013). Note the Frenchman River (aka Frenchman Creek) in southern Saskatchewan and the Milk River in Southern Alberta. This is a conservative estimate considering the likelihood that additional undiscovered dens remain in the province (see Canadian Range). The majority of native grassland (i.e., prairie) loss in Canada occurred prior to the 1930s as a result of conversion to cropland (Gauthier et al. Également disponible en français sous le titre Ếvaluation et Rapport de situation du COSEPAC sur le Crotale des prairies (Crotalus viridis) au Canada. No. Panel of three maps showing the percentage of landscape change by county in (Map a) cultivated acres, (Map b) hay land, and (Map c) natural land from 1971 to 2001 in southern Saskatchewan. Students will identify herbivores, omnivores, and carnivores in the prairie ecosystem. Habitat distribution influences dispersal and fine-scale genetic population structure of Eastern Foxsnakes (Mintonius gloydi) across a fragmented landscape. Recent land use change in the Western Corn Belt threatens grasslands and wetlands. A similar phenomenon has been described for Massasauga rattlesnakes (Sistrurus catenatus) in Ontario, where an entire ‘migration cohort’ was eliminated following the construction and use of a new road, and only snakes that naturally dispersed away from the road survived (Rouse et al. Email correspondence to Adam Martinson. Solid and half-solid circles = museum specimens, literature reports, and personal observations/collections by G. Pendlebury, circles with white dot and circles with cross = occurrences reported to G. Pendlebury and occurrences reported to sources other than G. Pendlebury, open circles = negative occurrences reported to G. Pendlebury. As a result, the current IAO estimates should be interpreted with caution. Southern Pacific rattlesnakes (Crotalus oreganus helleri) remain lighter in shades of colors such as tan and yellow as well as having dark brown patches on the body and a wide tail. Wilkinson, L., pers. Grasslands: toward a North American conservation strategy. Meerburg, B., G. Singleton, A. Kijlstra. Furthermore, ‘percent bush cover’ and ‘proximity to holes’ were habitat variables that were positively associated with snake use (Gardiner 2012). Saskatchewan Activity Restriction Guidelines for Sensitive Species. Principal Scientist, Ecosystems and Forestry, Saskatchewan Research Council, Saskatoon, Saskatchewan. ; see Habitat Requirements). comm. Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency (CEAA). PUBLIC LANDS ACT. NatureServe Explorer Glossary. Frenchman River (GNP West Block): 2,500 individuals (Kissner et al. 2011. Professor, Department of Natural Resource Sciences, Thompson Rivers University, Kamloops, BC. Restoration of foothills rough fescue grassland following pipeline disturbance in southwestern Alberta. Alberta Tourism, Parks and Recreation, Writing-on-Stone Provincial Park, Milk River, AB. For example, two, seven and 23 previously undocumented hibernacula were discovered during surveys by Rose (2001), Nicholson and Rose (2001) and Kissner and Nicholson (2003), respectively. Prairie Adaptation Research Collaborative, Regina, SK. Chiucchi, J.E., and H.L. Alberta Parks and Protected Areas (including Crown Reservations) (PDF; 3.87 MB). Saskatchewan Eco-Network. Potential reductions in the area of occupancy are inferred based on a lack of recent observation records from a general geographic area (i.e., within the last 20 years), while potential increases are inferred based on recent observations from an area where the species had not previously been recorded. Grants DRL 0089283, DRL 0628151, DUE 0633095, DRL 0918590, and DUE 1122742. Prairie Rattlesnakes can also fall into excavations, such as well caissons or pipeline trenches, and perish if unable to get out (Didiuk 1999, as cited by AESRD and ACA 2012). They are able to detect potential prey and other snakes for possible reproduction. The global range of the Prairie Rattlesnake extends from southern Canada, south through the central USA and into the northern portion of Mexico (Figure 2). Are there extreme fluctuations in number of populations? 2008; Jørgensen 2009; Andrus 2010), but may be active at den sites earlier and later in the season (AESRD and ACA 2012; Gushulak pers. Based on a Montana occurrence map, Prairie Rattlesnakes appear to be continuous (and recently observed) along the banks of both of these rivers north and south of the border (Montana Fish Wildlife and Parks 2012) and it seems likely that individuals move to and from Canada along these river drainages, probably to forage and to mate. 2013). Prairie rattlesnakes have a diamond shaped head which is set off from the relatively thin neck. animals which must use heat acquired from the environment and behavioral adaptations to regulate body temperature. A terrestrial biome. Email correspondence to A. Martinson. Rats, cities, people, and pathogens: A systematic review and narrative synthesis of literature regarding the ecology of rat-associated zoonoses in urban centers. Mitrovich, M. J., J. E. Diffendorfer and R. N. Fisher. [accessed Nov. 2013]. Table 6. It is currently unknown, however, whether this disjunction is likely to favour the evolution of local adaptations. 2015. Image used with permission. 63 pp. For example, a major erosion event caused serious damage to a well-known hibernaculum in Grasslands National Park, although the number of Prairie Rattlesnakes killed or displaced is currently not known, it could be as high as 50% of the individuals that use the hibernaculum (Gardiner and Sonmor 2011). Name: Prairie Rattlesnake (Crotalus viridis) (Rafinesque, 1818). (Species at Risk Public Registry). Although, Prairie Rattlesnake DNA has been collected from across Saskatchewan, analysis and results have not yet been published (Poulin pers. Adam Martinson has a B.Sc. 2014]). Midget faded rattlesnakes (Crotalus oreganus concolor) have a pinkish tone to their scales. Macartney, M., P. Gregory, B. Charland. Canadian Plains Research Center (University of Regina) and Commission for Environmental Cooperation, Regina, SK and Montréal, QC. 2008). In the last 40 years (1974 – 2013) declines in abundance of Prairie Rattlesnakes have been inferred anecdotally at a few Canadian locations, related to persecution, industrial development, road mortality and/or natural factors: Probably the most convincing evidence of a local population decline is provided by Proctor et al. Hibernacula are generally associated with south-, southeast- or east-facing slopes with inclines less than 30° and consist of holes or cracks in the earth caused by, or associated with, a variety of biological and physical phenomena (e.g., slumping topography, erosion, remnant water channels, loose soil, sinkholes, rocky outcrops, fissures and small mammal burrows) which allow access to a suitable subterranean environment (Gannon and Secoy 1984; Nicholson and Rose 2001; Fast 2003; Poulin and Didiuk 2008; Andrus 2010; AESRD and ACA 2012; Martinson and Wielki 2012; Saskatchewan Ministry of Environment 2013a). The authors speculate underpasses for large creeks and agricultural drains served as conduits for snake movement. comm. University of California Press, Berkeley, CA. ("COSEWIC assessment and status report on the Prairie Rattlesnake Crotalus viridis in Canada", 2015), Prairie rattlesnakes have a weak sense of sight. In the Suffield National Wildlife Area, traffic management plans, which include traffic re-routing, speed reductions, access limitations and training for industrial workers, may prove effective at reducing Prairie Rattlesnake road mortality caused by industrial activity (Nernberg pers. 84 pp. Chemical discrimination by tongue-flicking in lizards: A review with hypotheses on its origin and its ecological and phylogenetic relationships. Source: Nature Serve (2013). Ernst, R. D. and R. W. Quinlan. Map. The BAO is “…essentially the total area of habitat occupied by all existing populations”, while the IAO is the “…surface area of [2 km x 2 km] grid cells that intersect the [BAO]…” (COSEWIC 2011b). 2014. Prairie rattlesnakes release a polypeptide myotoxin and if bitten, hemorrhaging and necrotic damage to muscle tissues, myonecrosis, occurs. 1996; Poulin and Didiuk 2008; Poulin pers. Canadian Wildlife Service, Protected Areas and Stewardship Unit. 2013a. 2009a. Of all threats, those posed by roads are projected to have the greatest impact on the persistence of Prairie Rattlesnakes in Canada over the next 10 years. The Prairie Rattlesnake is one of three extant rattlesnake species in Canada and has been the subject of numerous scientific investigations in Alberta and Saskatchewan. However, since hibernacula are fairly remote, and some of the snakes migrate relatively short distances, the range of the scope is large-pervasive. Percent of landscape change by county in a) tilled land, b) hay land, and c) natural land from 1971 – 2001 in southern Saskatchewan. Approximately half of the estimated 95,000 km of roads in Grassland Natural Region of Alberta provide access to well sites (AESRD and ACA 2012). Hopi rattlesnakes (Crotalus oreganus) have pink and red shades on their scales, with brown patches all over the body. (1996) considered three of the den sites in their Saskatchewan study to be part of the same hibernacula complex as they were less than 500 m from each other. 79 pp. The Prairie Rattlesnake is strongly associated with major river valleys in this watershed, including the Bow, Oldman, Red Deer and South Saskatchewan rivers, as well as with the Milk and Frenchman rivers in the Missouri River drainage (refer to Figure 4). The Prairie Rattlesnake’s colonization of Western Canada followed the establishment of prairie grasslands at the end of the Wisconsin glaciation ~11,000 years ago (see Pendlebury 1977 for a discussion of possible colonization routes). NatureServe Explorer: An online encyclopedia of life [web application]. Jørgensen, D. 2009. Much of a rattlesnake’s diet consists of mice, voles and shrews. comm. All hibernacula were occupied in both periods; however, the authors report that in the 2000s, 36% of the hibernacula (4/11 locations) were already showing signs of declining abundance (i.e., a noticeable drop in the number of observed snakes). data), Canada: (Gannon and Secoy 1984; Macartney and Weichel 1993; Jørgensen and Nicholson 2007; Gushulak pers. A site within the size range discussed above (i.e., 1 – 3 km radius from a den) may only be able to support members of the population who migrate relatively short distances from the den. Arizona black rattlesnakes (Crotalus viridis ceberus) have darker shades on their body such as gray or black patches on the dorsum. Wildlife Society Bulletin, 28/1: 235-253. 1992. Gillingham, J., D. Clark. 254 pp. 1998; Jørgensen et al. Prairie Rattlesnake -- Crotalus viridis. Observations outside the historical area of occupancy are most likely attributed to increased search effort as opposed to natural colonizations (see Search Effort; Fluctuations and Trends), and may represent previously unknown den sites and/or snakes migrating from known den sites. Andrus, W., pers. 1999. U.S. [accessed Jan. 2015]. Pipeline construction also poses a threat to Prairie Rattlesnakes. They feed on snakes so often that they are given the name snake killers. Based on the separation distance defined above, there are at least two large disjunctions within the Canadian range of the Prairie Rattlesnake. They are also in the northern part of Chihuahua, Mexico. Temperate grasslands are considered among the most threatened biomes on Earth (WCPA 2010), and once converted to another land use (e.g., cultivation), they are very difficult to restore (Alberta NAWMP Partnership 2008). Mechanical damage inflicted by fangs on prey during predatory strikes by rattlesnakes, Crotalus viridis oreganus. Agricultural activity is pervasive within the Canadian range of the Prairie Rattlesnake. Map showing the South Saskatchewan River watershed in southeastern Alberta and southwestern Saskatchewan. Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada (COSEWIC). University of Calgary Press, Calgary, AB. During a follow-up survey of dens in Saskatchewan, hibernacula that were used by many snakes (of multiple species) in 1987 generally continued to support relatively large populations of snakes in 1990-91, while dens containing few snakes in 1987 also had few snakes in 1990-91 (Macartney and Weichel 1993). Macartney, M. and B. Weichel. Fire and grazing are important in the long-term maintenance of grasslands. [accessed December 2013]. Alberta Species at Risk Report No. In the future, a number of activities which are potentially destructive to rattlesnake habitat are proposed in Lethbridge: 1) an off-leash dog run and future recreational development in the Popson park area (Ernst and Quinlan 2006), 2) a third major crossing of the Oldman River planned when the city reaches a population of 76,000 - 100,000 (LNG and RCP 2008), 3) inferred encroachment of infrastructure and development on the river valley and the uplands overlooking the river (LNG and RCP 2008), and 4) one of the three study sites by Andrus (2010), which includes a subpopulation of rattlesnakes and a hibernaculum complex, is for sale. Review with hypotheses on its origin and its ecological and phylogenetic relationships from Pendlebury 1977. For this occurring in other large-bodied snakes Edson, AB area of occupancy dark... Update 2012 or business Development, Fish and Wildlife Policy, Alberta bottoms and. 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