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Eastern Diamondback Rattlesnake - Crotalus adamanteus

leafNorth America's Largest Venomous Snake.
The Eastern Diamondback Rattlesnake is a large pit viper which averages between three and five feet. Records of an 8 foot specimen do exist. Average weight of an Eastern Diamondback Rattlesnake is five to ten pounds. They are the largest venomous snake in North America and the largest rattlesnake in the world.

The background color is usually brownish but may vary from silvery gray to dark black. A row of diamond shaped markings with brown centers outlined in yellow, cream or white spans the body from the neck to the vent. The tail is lightly stiped with brown and yellow or cream.

The head of the Eastern Diamondback Rattlesnake is wide and very distinct from the neck. Nostrils connect to the respiratory system and are located on the front of the rostrum. A pair of heat sensing pits are located between the nostrils and the eye. The eye has a vertical elliptical pupil centered in a black iris.

Range & Habitat

Found in the southeastern United States from southeastern North Carolina, south along the coastal plain through peninsular Florida to the Florida Keys, and west along the Gulf Coast though southern Mississippi to southeastern Louisiana.

Inhabits upland dry pine forest, pine and palmetto flatwoods, sandhills and coastal maritime hammocks, long-leaf pine/turkey-oak habitats, grass-sedge marshes and swamp forest, mesic hammocks, sandy mixed woodlands, xeric hammocks, salt marshes, as well as wet prairies during dry periods. In many areas it seems to use burrows made by gophers and gopher tortoises during the summer and winter.

Behavior

These snakes frequently shelter in mammal and gopher tortoise burrows, emerging in the early morning or afternoon to bask.

Like most rattlesnakes, this species is terrestrial and not adept at climbing. However, they have on occasion been reported in bushes and trees, apparently in search of prey. Even large specimens have been spotted as much as 10 m above the ground.

A better known fact is that they are excellent swimmers. Specimens have often been spotted crossing stretches of water between barrier islands and the mainland off the Georgia coast, in the Gulf of Mexico and in the Florida Keys, sometimes miles from land.

Individual disposition varies, with some allowing close approach while remaining silent, and others starting to rattle at a distance of 6-9 m.[7] The rattle is well-developed and can be heard from relatively far away. When threatened they raise the anterior half of the body off the ground in an S-shaped coil and strike to a distance of at least a third of their body length.[10] Many will stand their ground and may strike repeatedly, but if given the opportunity they will usually retreat while facing the intruder and moving backwards towards shelter, after which they disappear.

It is suspected that some rattlesnakes (and C. adamanteus in particular) that generally live around populated areas do not rattle as often because it leads to the snake’s discovery and consequent destruction. However, there is little available evidence of this hypothesis.

Hawks, eagles, and other snakes have been known to prey upon young and adolescent specimens.

Additional Notes

WARNING!!!! Give this rattlesnake a wide berth! It is the most dangerous snake in North America. Although the venom of this species is similar to that of most rattlers (and less potent drop-for-drop than that of the coral snakes), a large Eastern Diamondback is capable of delivering a large amount of venom deep into the flesh of its victims. This snake is also known for standing its ground when threatened.

Venomous or Harmless - The Look-a-Likes

HN_EDB.jpg Eastern Diamondback Rattlesnake
Venomous
HN_easternhog.jpg Eastern Hognose Snake
Harmless