Eastern Diamond Back Rattlesnake

 

ABOUT

This is the largest venomous snake in the United States.  The average size is five to six feet long.  From a coiled position, it can accurately strike half its body length.  The best defense is to never go near one, even to move it.  All bites have been because someone got too close.

MARKINGS

Their pattern of yellow bordered, light-centered black diamonds makes them among the most dramatically marked and easily recognized of all North American reptiles.

Diamond Pattern
Eastern Diamond Back Showing Diamond Pattern

 HABITAT

Can be found in dry sandy areas, pinewoods, palmetto flatwoods, sandy woodlands, coastal dune or scrub habitats and also hardwood hammocks. They can further be found in wet prairie habitats during dry periods.  They live only from southern North Carolina to Florida and west to Louisiana.  They are capable swimmers, and can travel through saltwater to and from barrier islands for example in the Florida Keys, sometimes miles from land. They will usually avoid wet habitats but sometimes can be found along the edge of a swamp area.

Capable swimmer Eastern Diamondback

They can frequently be found taking shelter in tortoise burrows, and come out in early morning or afternoon to bask in the sun and hunt. They tend to be ground dwellers mostly and dislike climbing.

habitat diamond back
Diamondback shown in natural habitat.

DANGER

Feared to be deadly as well as aggressive, diamondbacks are in fact highly averse to contact with people. They will only attack if in defense. When they are cornered, rattlesnakes react by shaking their iconic tails as a last warning to back away from them. Their temperament varies quite a bit, some will start to rattle at a distance of 20-30 feet while others allow a closer approach and still remain silent. Their rattle is sturdy and and can be heard from some distance away.  If left untreated the bite mortality rate is between 10% and 20%, but less than 1% when treated. Mostly – the size of the snake and the distance with which they can strike out are to be recognized and known. Certainly, do not go near this creature under any circumstances. If you are walking or hiking– keep your eyes and ears open. Do not provoke this animal.

RATTLE

What does the rattle sound like?

 

Diamond back on hiking trail