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threatened and/or endangered

Eastern Diamondback Rattlesnake Crotalus adamanteus


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Eastern Diamondback Rattlesnake
credit: TimVickers

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Family: Viperidae, Pit Vipers view all from this family

Description Thick, heavy body. Diamond pattern down back with cream/yellow scales surrounding. Side of head has diagonal lines. 27-29 rows of keeled scales.

Dimensions 91.4-244cm. (36-96")

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.

Rattlesnakes, Copperheads, and Cottonmouths belong to a group of snakes known as pit vipers. These dangerous snakes have a heat-sensitive sensory organ on each side of the head that enables them to locate warm-blooded prey and strike accurately, even in the dark. The curved, hollow fangs are normally folded back along the jaw. When a pit viper strikes, the fangs rapidly swing forward and fill with venom as the mouth opens. The venom is a complex mixture of proteins that acts primarily on a victim's blood tissue. If you hear a rattlesnake shaking its rattle, back away. The snake is issuing a warning, and if the warning is ignored it may bite. There are many factors (temperature being the most important) that determine how a snake will react when confronted by a human. Venomous snakes should always be observed from a safe distance. Pit vipers are never safe to handle. Even dead ones can retain some neurological reflexes, and "road kills" have been known to bite. How to avoid and treat snakebites

Breeding 7-21 young in a litter. 30-36cm (12-14") long when born.

Habitat Country side - longleaf, pine or turkey oak flatwoods.

Range North Carolina to Florida Keys coastal plain. Also Mississippi and Louisiana.

Discussion Largest rattler. Hides in burrows and dense vegetation. Land development has reduced its habitat and therefore its numbers. Also reduced by rattlesnake hunters. Rabbits, squirrels and birds form main diet.