Information About the Snakes of North America - Eastern Diamondback Rattlesnake

Eastern Diamondback Rattlesnake

This is the deadliest snake in North America. Most deaths in the United States due to snakebite are because of the Eastern, not the Western Diamondback. The Eastern Diamondback has a very potent venom, and it injects the venom in high quantity. This snake has an extremely fast strike - 175 miles per hour. However, it cannot slither very fast, and it will stand its ground and rattle its tail, and if you get to within 2/3 of its body length when its agitated like this, there's a decent chance you'll end up dead. Do not approach this snake for any reason.

Eastern Diamondback Rattlesnake
Here is a photo of a giant Eastern Diamondback Rattlesnake that I caught in Orlando FL.

Click below pics for high-resolution photos of Eastern Diamondback Rattlesnakes:

Diamondback Rattlesnake Information - Diamondback Rattlesnakes that are found in the United States come in two varieties; the eastern and the western diamondback rattlesnake. The eastern diamondback rattlesnake is found in the coastal areas in the Carolinas, Florida and Louisiana. They are often found in wooded areas where there is both land and water. The western diamondback rattlesnake is found throughout the rest of the United States in mountainous and semi-arid to arid areas in states like Colorado, Arizona, New Mexico, Southern Texas and California. The western diamondback rattlesnake lives in shrubby and rocky areas that it can easily conceal itself, however these areas are common to outdoor sport enthusiasts like hikers, rock climbers and mountain bikers which is where the majority of rattlesnake bites occur.

Diamondback rattlesnakes are one of the largest snakes in the United States, and one of the most deadly. Rattlesnakes reach an average size of four to six feet when they are full grown. There have been some diamondback rattlesnakes that have even grown up to seven feet, but this is very rare. The diamondback rattlesnake gets its name from the diamond pattern of its scales that resemble diamonds. These patterns, along with its color which are gray, tan, yellow or red, help it to blend into the background and escape the notice of predators. However, it is because of the rattlesnake’s excellent camouflage, that unsuspecting hikers might accidentally step into its line of attack. The most well known characteristic of the rattlesnake is its rattle that it shakes to warn predators of its presence.

Another striking feature of the diamondback rattlesnake is its triangular head and the very light colored stripe that starts at the corner of its mouth and wraps around the back of the head. This snake is a part of the viper family and has heat seeking sensors under its nose so that it can successfully track prey at night as well as in the day. The prey of a diamondback rattlesnake usually includes anything that it can overpower and swallow in one bite like birds, rodents, lizards, ground squirrels, toads, rabbits and the occasional small pet. The venom that a rattlesnake will inject into its victims attacks the blood, making it thinner and harder to clot, therefore the victim will either bleed out or bleed internally. If the victim should scamper off after it is bitten by a diamondback rattlesnake, the snake can follow its scent trail until the animal falls down dead or is too weak to defend itself.

The diamondback rattlesnake will not come into sexual maturity until its third year of life. Rattlesnakes mate in the spring, following their hibernation in the winter. The first part of the mating ritual involves a “combat dance” that males engage in to assert domination and to determine who will get prime breeding rights. These dances involve the males throwing their upper bodies together and wrapping around each other. Once a dominant male has won a female snake the male will coil himself around her for copulation to occur.

The female diamondback rattlesnake will carry the young for up to 170 days which is an incredibly long gestation period for a snake considering that the average gestation period lasts only for 90 days. The delivery of the young is also a long practice lasting up to half a day, and in that time the female rattlesnake will give birth to anywhere between 10 and 20 young. The female diamondback rattlesnake gives a pseudo-live birth where the young are in egg-like sacks that they must puncture and then leave the mother’s body. Young rattlesnakes are born completely independent and will hunt and protect themselves from the day they are born. Diamondback rattlesnakes are mainly solitary, only meeting during mating season and to hibernate.

Here are some of my other snake info pages:
Guide to Florida's Venomous Snakes
Eastern Diamondback Rattlesnake
Eastern Coral Snake
Water Moccasin a.k.a. Cottonmouth
Pygmy Rattlesnake
Timber Rattlesnake

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