Art Spotted: Amelanistic Western Diamondback Rattlesnake

The American International Rattlesnake Museum is located in Albuquerque, New Mexico and houses the largest collection of live rattlesnakes in the world.  Among them is a very rare amelanistic Western Diamondback rattlesnake (Crotalus atrox) named Marilyn.  Amelanism is a rare, but naturally occurring, condition caused by the lack of the biological pigment melanin.  In snakes this condition typically expresses with a unique yellow coloring on the scales.  Marilyn looks especially yellow given the contrast between her scales and the dark rocks of her habitat.  Amelanistic coral and corn snakes typically express with bright red and yellow coloration on their scales.

Albinism, sometimes used interchangeably with amelanism, is characterized by the lack of all biological pigments in the body, of which melanin is only one of many.  When amelanistic and albino specimens occur in the wild they usually do not survive to adulthood as they are more visible to predators.  Marilyn should live a long life of 20-30 years and grow to a length of over 6 feet at the AIRM.  The museum is dedicated to promoting principles of animal conservation and education about rattlesnakes to the public.

The American International Rattlesnake Museum’s homepage: Click here!

Marilyn’s bio page: Click here!