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Eastern Diamondback Rattlesnake, Diamondback, Rattlesnake, Rattler

VENOMOUS

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Scientific name: Crotalus adamanteus PALISOT DE BEAUVOIS 1799

* Currently accepted name

Synonym:

* scientific names used through time

  • Crotalus adamanteus – PALISOT DE BEAUVOIS 1799
  • Crotalus durissus – BOULENGER 1896

Description: Average adult size is 36-72 inches (91-183 cm), record is 96 inches (244 cm). A large, heavy-bodied snake with a row of large dark diamonds with brown centers and cream borders down its back. The ground color of the body is brownish. The tail is usually a different shade, brownish or gray, and toward the end of the tail the diamonds fade out or break into bands. The tail ends in a rattle. The scales are keeled. The large and thick head has a light bordered dark stripe running diagonally through the eye and there are vertical light stripes on the snout. The pupil is vertical (cat-like) and there is a deep facial pit between the nostril and the eye.

The young are similar to the adults in color pattern. The tip of the tail of new born Eastern Diamondback Rattlesnake ends in a "button," which is the first segment of the future rattle.

drawing

A. Top of the head (notice, except for the scales over the eyes, there are no large scales on the top of the head)
B. Underside of the head (chin and throat)
C. Keeled scales
D. Side of the head (notice the facial pit between the eye and the nostril)
E. Front (face view) of the head

Range: Eastern Diamondback Rattlesnakes are found throughout the state of Florida, including several barrier islands and the Florida Keys. Outside of Florida, they range north along the coastal plain to southeastern North Carolina and west to southern Mississippi and eastern Louisiana.

Habitat: Eastern Diamondback Rattlesnakes are often found in pine flatwoods, longleaf pine and turkey oak, sand pine scrub areas, and coastal barrier islands. These habitats contain palmetto thickets and Gopher Tortoise burrows in which the Diamondback Rattlesnake may seek refuge. Humans have invaded many of Florida's pine flatwoods and scrub areas which now contain farms, homes and shopping plazas. As a result, the displaced Eastern Diamondback Rattlesnakes may be turn up in backyards, golf courses, and even parking lots.

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Comments: VENOMOUS. The Eastern Diamondback Rattlesnake is a large, impressive, and potentially dangerous snake. It can strike up to 2/3 its body length; a 6-foot (183 cm) individual may strike 4 feet (122 cm). These factors, as well as others, make this a snake that should be simply left alone and not bothered. Some people wrongly believe the Eastern Diamondback Rattlesnake must rattle before striking, but this is not true. It can lay silent and motionless, and then strike without the usual nervous buzz from its rattle. In fact, Eastern Diamondback Rattlesnakes that rattle are more apt to be heard, seen and killed, and those that remain silent are more apt to go undiscovered.

The Eastern Diamondback Rattlesnake is extremely beneficial to man because it preys on rats, mice, rabbits, and other warm blooded prey, many of which are considered pests. Nevertheless, the general public in Florida feels so threatened by this and other snakes that many are killed without consideration. This indiscriminate killing, combined with the widespread loss of Rattlesnake habitat to agricultural development and urban sprawl and commercial hunting for Rattlesnake skins, has caused a severe decline in most Eastern Diamondback Rattlesnake populations.

Comparison with other species:
The only other Rattlesnake it might be confused with is the Timber Rattlesnake (Crotalus horridus) which has black chevron-like crossbands, a reddish stripe down the middle of its back, and a black tail.

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