Of the two rattlers found in the Mojave, Crotalus scutulatus is by far the more dangerous. Larger (most specimens reach an average size of 3ft, with larger specimens reaching over 4ft in length), more aggressive, and significantly more toxic than the sidewinder, this animal has the distinction of being potentially the most toxic of all the rattlers, as well as one of the most toxic of all the New World venomous snakes. Unlike most members of the Crotalinae, C. scutulatus carries a binary toxin, with both a hemo- and neurotoxic component.
These snakes are most active during April to September, and hibernate during the winter. They're an important element of the desert ecology, serving as a top predator of both small rodents and reptiles. They prefer high desert and low mountain slopes with open, arid areas of creosote, mesquite and Joshua-trees, while avoiding dense vegetation or rocky outcrops. Females are ovoviviporous, retaining their eggs inside the body before giving birth to live young.
Like all other rattlers, the best way to interact with these snakes is to leave them alone. They will vigorously defend themselves when confronted, but are usually polite enough to rattle and warn the potential assailant of their presence. Giving the animal a wide berth and not antagonizing it are two of the best ways to avoid being struck. Never, under any circumstances, should an untrained person handle one of these snakes.