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Rattlesnake vs. Mole snake

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Rattlesnakes and Mole Snakes are two of nature’s most fearsome creatures. Both snakes are equally aggressive and can strike unprepared prey without any warning.

Rattlesnakes can inflict painful and potentially lethal venomous bites, and on the other hand, mole snakes, although they can give a painful bite, are non-venomous.

There are several differences between Rattlesnakes and Mole Snakes, and in this article, we will explore the key characteristics between rattlers and moles.

Western Diamondback Rattlesnake
Western Diamondback Rattlesnake (Crotalus atrox) coiled to strike

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Appearance and Size

Pseudaspis cana
A mole snake crossing a sand road in the Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park in the Kalahari Desert in Southern Africa.

Rattlesnakes can be easily identified by their colors and rattles.

For rattlesnakes, the colors are yellow, gray, chalk white, and a very bright brown, and they also have a pattern of large diamond shapes all over their body.

Rattlesnakes typically reach a length of two to four feet, where they lunge two-thirds of the size of their body. Despite their fearsome appearance, they are pretty shy and typically try to escape when startled. 

However, they can become aggressive if cornered or threatened. They have sharp fangs that deliver venom strong enough to immobilize most prey.

 Mole snakes are often mistaken for rattlesnakes due to their similar appearance. They have a more uniform pattern that includes stripes or bands on their body.

Comparatively, the mole snake typically grows larger than rattlesnakes, reaching lengths up to 6 feet, roughly equal to a tall man’s height. 

They are non-aggressive and will only bite if provoked. They can also use burrowing to escape danger in the wild. 

Their heads are slightly different in shape, with a slender and pointed snout that can be used for digging into the ground. Mole snakes also have smooth scales and small eyes, giving them an almost reptilian look. 

Check out: Rattlesnake vs. Forest Cobra.

Habitat and Distribution

Eastern Diamondback Rattlesnake

Most rattlesnakes live in deserts and grassland regions. Typically, they stay within a short range of their dens and can live up to 30 years in captivity.

When threatened, rattlesnakes will rattle their tail, which they shake to warn off their predators.

This behavior helps them stay safe in their habitats while they hunt for prey.  

Whether it’s the depths of a hidden cave or the thick foliage of a tropical jungle, mole snakes have no shortage of places they can call home. 

The Mole’s scientifically known as Pseudalsophis bicolor. It has various habitats, from lowland forests to highlands up to 4000 meters above sea level.

Their specialized skin and interesting underground burrowing technique make them ideally suited for these diverse locations. 

Their love of dark and damp areas means you’ll rarely find them in the open.

Venomous Capabilities

mole snake
mole snake

Rattlesnake venom comprises type A and type B venom, which contains proteins, enzymes, and low molecular weight compounds, which can cause serious harm to their prey or predators. 

The composition of the venom and the delivery mechanisms employed by these creatures are horrifying. Rattles have evolved to possess lengthy, hollow fangs that can deliver venom to almost any target.

Although moles are not as well-known for their venom as rattlesnakes, their techniques for capturing prey are no less impressive. They have a unique adaptation in that they produce modified saliva that contains an anticoagulant to prevent their prey from clotting. 

This specialized ability enables them to easily feed on animals like lizards and rodents

The mouth and head of some mole snake species are also covered with venom glands, increasing their protection when hunting or feeding.

How do rattlesnakes and mole snakes reproduce and parent?

Crotalus durissus
Deadly South American rattlesnake (Crotalus durissus) captured with hook

Rattlesnakes and mole snakes exhibit various parenting behaviors during reproduction. Rattlesnakes reproduce by a strategy called ovoviviparous, where the mother produces eggs inside her body that she then hatches and gives birth to live young. 

Both species, for example, practice maternal care by remaining with their eggs until they hatch.

During this time, the female rattlesnake will vibrate her tail to keep predators away from her offspring. 

Mole Snakes are truly viviparous. Mole snakes practice paternal care by staying with their eggs until they hatch. 

The male mole snake will also protect its offspring from predators. In both cases, once the young snakes have hatched, the parents will leave them to find food and learn how to survive independently. 

When Rattlesnake and Mole Snake face-off, which one would win?

Rattle Snake VS Cape Cobra
Rattle Snake VS Cape Cobra

 A Rattlesnake versus a Mole Snake battle will surely be exciting – but are you inquisitive to know who will win?

Here’s the answer: Rattlesnakes are known for their iconic rattle at the tip of their tail. They use their rattling technique to intimidate predators but also rely on their potent venom to defend themselves against attack. 

On the other hand, Mole Snakes grow up to 4 feet in length and have an impressive burrowing ability, which they use as protection from predators.

The outcome of this battle could depend on several factors, from size to environment. But ultimately, the Rattlesnake would likely win due to its venomous capabilities and other specialized features. 

Because they can deliver an extremely potent and deadly bite, giving it a clear advantage in any confrontation with a Mole Snake. 

So the winner is likely to be the Rattlesnake. No matter who wins, going near them without any conflict is a bad idea, be sure to keep your distance when you spot them.

What is the difference between these two species?

Mojave Rattlesnake Bite
Dwarf Mojave rattlesnake (Crotalus scutulatus) isolated on white background

Rattlesnakes and mole snakes each have distinct characteristics which many people are unaware of. Both snakes are part of the Squamata order, yet they come from separate families: Crotalinae and Typhlopidae. 

Rattlesnakes are venomous, while moles are non-venomous. The most apparent difference between rattlesnakes and mole snakes is their size: a typical adult rattlesnake can measure up to 8 feet long, while the average adult mole snake will only be around 2 feet. 

Additionally, rattlesnakes are easily identifiable by their unique rattle at the end of their tails, making a distinct sound when threatened.

Mole snakes cannot make this noise and have no visible rattles on their tail.

In terms of behavior, rattlesnakes are generally more aggressive than moles. If threatened, rattlesnakes will coil and rattle as a warning, while moles may hide in the ground or under rocks to avoid detection. 

Regarding habitat, rattlesnakes prefer arid regions with plenty of open space, while mole snakes are typically found in grasslands and forests.

Rattlesnakes are large, heavy-bodied snakes with a rattle at the end of their tailsMole Snakes are small, slender-bodied snakes, and they do not possess any rattle
Rattlesnakes have diamond-shaped heads and vertical pupilsMole Snakes have blunt heads and round pupils
Rattlesnakes are found in many parts of the U.S., Mexico, and South AmericaMolesnakes are primarily found in Arizona, New Mexico, and California
Rattlesnakes have venom that can be dangerous to humans and other animalsMole Snakes have milder venom that is not considered hazardous to humans
Rattlesnakes feed mainly on small mammals such as rodents and lizardsMole snakes primarily eat earthworms, insects, and other invertebrates

Wrap Up

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As we can see, rattlesnakes and mole snakes possess unique traits and behaviors.

While each creature has its benefits and drawbacks, the environment in which they live is always a key factor when determining which type of snake would be best suited to any particular situation. 

For example, rattlesnakes are probably the best option if you’re looking for a snake that can live in dry, desert regions. 

But if you need a snake to live in wetter climates and burrow underground, mole snakes may be your best bet.

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