Fun Sidewinder Facts For Kids

Divya Raghav
Feb 29, 2024 By Divya Raghav
Originally Published on Aug 17, 2021
Edited by Jacob Fitzbright
Fact-checked by Kidadl Team
Read these interesting sidewinder facts to learn more about this species of snake known for its pit vipers and horns.
Age: 3-18
Read time: 6.5 Min

The sidewinder (Crotalus cerastes), also known as the Horned rattlesnake and sidewinder rattlesnake, is a venomous pit viper species found in the desert areas of the southwestern United States and northwestern Mexico. This species of rattlesnakes is known for its 'sidewinding' style of movement on desert sand. The sidewinding gait makes it easier to cross moving sands and other surfaces. The sidewinder can achieve speeds of up to 18 mph (29 kph). There are currently three subspecies recognized, they are the Mojave Desert sidewinder, Sonoran Desert sidewinder, and the Colorado Desert sidewinder.

If you enjoyed reading this, do also read our garter snake facts and speckled kingsnake facts too.

Sidewinder Interesting Facts

What type of animal is a sidewinder?

The sidewinder is a type of rattlesnake found mostly in deserts.

What class of animal does a sidewinder belong to?

The sidewinder belongs to the class Reptilia.

How many sidewinders are there in the world?

The exact number of sidewinders in the world is not known, but their population is stable.

Where does a sidewinder live?

A sidewinder snake, also known as a horned viper, is one of four species of small venomous snakes that live in the deserts of North America, Africa, and the Middle East.

What is a sidewinder's habitat?

The southwestern United States and northwestern Mexico are home to sidewinders. These snakes can be found in southeastern California, southern Nevada, southwestern Utah, and western Arizona in the southwestern USA. They can be found in western Sonora and eastern Baja California in northwestern Mexico.

Who do sidewinders live with?

This rattlesnake species generally stays alone in their burrows; however, their burrows are close to each other.

How long does a sidewinder live?

The average lifespan of a sidewinder rattlesnake is around 20 years or even more at times when well-fed in captivity. However, in the wild, they live for about 13 years.

How do they reproduce?

Sidewinders reach maturity at the age of two to three years, they can reproduce annually, and give birth to live young. If food is scarce, some snakes will also miss the two-year mark. Sidewinders mate from April to May and sometimes in the fall. The male snake crawls around the female's back, scratching her with his chin to attract or arouse her as they mate. The male would then attempt to pull their cloacae together by wrapping his tail around her tail. The cloaca is the cavity in the back of the snake's body from which it excretes waste and reproduces. If she wishes to mate, the female would raise her tail and encourage him to do so. The snakes will mate for several hours, and if one of them moves, the other is pulled along with it. During a single season, females will mate with several males. In late summer and early autumn, females give birth to 5-18 young ones. The young are 6-8 in (15-20cm) long when they are born. They generally give birth to offspring in the range of 1-20.

What is their conservation status?

Sidewinder rattlesnakes have been classified as of Least Concern by the IUCN Red List.

Sidewinder Fun Facts

What do sidewinders look like?

These sidewinder snakes are called so because of how they move.

A sidewinder (Crotalus cerastes) is a species of snake found in deserts. In most cases, 21 rows of keeled dorsal scales appear in the middle of the body of sidewinders. Male sidewinders have 141 ventral scales or less, while females have 144 or less. Due to the elevated supraocular scales above the paws, it is sometimes called the horned rattlesnake. As the snake lies almost buried in it, this adaptation can help shade the eyes or keep sand from drifting over them. The color pattern consists of a cream, buff, yellowish-brown, pink, or ash grey ground color overlaid with 28-47 subelliptical dorsal blotches. In adults, the belly of the nominate subspecies is white, and the proximal lobe of the rattle is brown. The ability of sidewinders to show different colorations depending on the temperature is defined by Klauber and Neill as metachrosis.

How cute are they?

Sidewinders have an eerie and creepy appearance which makes a chill run down the spine of any person who sees them. They are not at all cute.

How do they communicate?

Sidewinders have pits on the sides of their heads to detect infrared radiation, which rattlesnakes use to find prey in their environment. To scent their surroundings in the loose sand of the desert, sidewinders, like all snakes, use their noses and twitch their tongues (tactile). Male sidewinders use their tactile senses to find a mate, court, capture prey, and spot predators like kingsnakes. They also move in a series of ways (sidewinding, rectilinear motion, and lateral undulations), each of which allows the snakes' tactile senses to detect body parts in contact with the sand (or alternate substrate).

How big is a sidewinder?

Adult specimens range between 17-30 in (43-76 cm) in length, making it a small genus. The average adult is 19.5–31.5 in (50–80 cm) long. Females are heavier than males in this group of snakes, which is rare.

How fast can a sidewinder move?

A sidewinder can move at a speed of 18 mph (29 kph). The common name sidewinder refers to its unique locomotion, which is believed to provide traction on windblown desert sand, although this locomotor specialization can be used on any substrate on which the sidewinder can travel quickly. Its body forms a J-shaped impression as it moves through loose sand, with the hook's tip pointed in the direction of movement.

How much does a sidewinder weigh?

A sidewinder can weigh up to 0.2-0.6 lb (98-304 g).

What are the male and female names of the species?

There is no such specific name for a male and female sidewinder snake. They are referred to as male and female sidewinders.

What would you call a baby sidewinder?

There is no such specific term for a baby sidewinder snake. They are called baby sidewinders only. The young are born encased in thin embryonic membranes, which they emerge from shortly after being removed from the mother, much like most other viperids. The young spend up to 10 days in the burrow with their mother, shed for the first time, and then abandon their natal burrow. The mother defends them from predators in this period.

What do they eat?

Sidewinders are carnivores. They usually eat mice and rats but also prey on reptiles like lizards, snakes, and birds. Lizards are the preferred prey of young sidewinder rattlesnakes as lizards make easy prey to catch for them.

Are they poisonous?

Sidewinders are venomous but not aggressive and deadly as such. This is because their venom is less potent than that of many other rattlesnakes. This and the fact that their venom glands are much smaller makes them less dangerous than their larger cousins. However, any rattlesnake bite can be deadly, so it's important to take it seriously and get medical help right away.

Would they make a good pet?

A desert sidewinder snake is a poisonous and wild species of reptile and hence is extremely dangerous. The idea of keeping a desert sidewinder snake as a pet is an absurd and insane idea. Their bite can be extremely dangerous, and hence keeping them as pets is not a great idea.

Did you know...

In the summer, the sidewinder is nocturnal, but in the winter, it is diurnal.

Some other vipers include the spiny bush viper and asp viper.

Features of the sidewinder

This species of snake is known for its sidewinding crawl. It is also known as the horned viper because of the fact that it has two horns above each eye to prevent sand from getting into their eyes while the snake is buried.

Naming the sidewinder

A sidewinder, also known as a horned viper, is one of four species of small venomous snakes that live in the deserts of North America, Africa, and the Middle East. They all crawl in a 'sidewinding' pattern, thus giving it its name.

Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly animal facts for everyone to discover! Learn more about some other reptiles from our blue spiny lizard facts and flying lizard facts pages.

You can even occupy yourself at home by coloring in one of our free printable Sidewinder coloring pages.

Sidewinder Facts

What Did They Prey On?

Lizards, snakes, birds, mice

What Type of Animal were they?


Average Litter Size?


How Much Did They Weigh?

0.2-0.6 lb (98-304 gm)

What habitat Do they Live In?


Where Do They Live?

mexico, usa

How Long Were They?

18-24 in (45-60 cm)

How Tall Were They?








Scientific Name

Crotalus cerastes

What Do They Look Like?


Skin Type


What Are Their Main Threats?

hawks, crows, larger snakes, raccoons

What is their Conservation Status?

Least Concern
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Written by Divya Raghav

Bachelor of Commerce specializing in Accounting and Finance, Master of Business Administration

Divya Raghav picture

Divya RaghavBachelor of Commerce specializing in Accounting and Finance, Master of Business Administration

With a diverse range of experience in finance, administration, and operations, Divya is a diligent worker known for her attention to detail. Born and raised in Bangalore, she completed her Bachelor's in Commerce from Christ University and is now pursuing an MBA at Narsee Monjee Institute of Management Studies, Bangalore. Along with her professional pursuits, Divya has a passion for baking, dancing, and writing content. She is also an avid animal lover who dedicates her time to volunteering for animal welfare causes.

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