Eastern Diamondback Rattlesnake

Eastern Diamondback Rattlesnake


07.18.2008 - This is an Eastern Diamondback Rattlesnake that I caught. It's a good sized specimen. This snake lives throughout most of the state of Florida, but it's pretty rare in the Orlando area. It's rare in most developed areas, because it's a slow snake and it stands its ground, and people have a habit of killing them off. It's true that the bite of this snake is very dangerous - many herpetologists think it's one of the 10 deadliest snakes in the world - but it won't strike unless provoked. Nevertheless, most people don't like to have them around, so where there's people, there tends not to be Eastern Diamondbacks. This snake also, like many animals, simply needs undeveloped areas in which to live and capture prey. Even without human persecution, this snake wouldn't thrive well in an area loaded with cars and concrete. Undeveloped scrub pine is much better.

This snake in the above photo that I took is in a classic defensive posture. It coils its body up and raises its head, cocked back and ready to spring forward and strike. The tail is raised upward and rattling. The rattle is quite loud, and easy to recognize. It's very easy to identify this snake. It's usually a large snake, with a thick and muscular body. It has large visible scales, and is tan with diamond shaped patterns along its back. This snake has a very fat head, and a black stripe leading back from the eye. It also of course has that rattle, which is the only sure sign of a rattlesnake. While some rattlesnakes lose their rattles, the fact is that if you don't see a rattle, but just a thin, tapered tail, it's not a rattlesnake.

If you see a snake like the above, in the position you see above, do not approach it. Unlike almost any other snake, you seriously stand a good chance of dying, from this one. Most snakes are not venomous, but even the venomous ones will likely only cause a good deal of pain and tissue damage. But the Eastern Diamondback, especially a nice sized one like this one, will probably kill you if it gets in a venomous strike. Its strike is incredibly fast, and it can really lunge forward a good distance, up to 2/3 of its body length, so do not get close. Almost 100% of cases of rattlensnake bite occur when people decide to mess with snakes - toy with them, photograph them, collect them, or kill them. It's no surprise that the most common circumstance of a snakebite occurs when an ignorant person tries to kill the snake. Anyone who knows anything about this snake should respect it and leave it alone.

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The Eastern Diamondback Rattlesnake
Diamond Rattlesnake, scientifically known as “Crotalus adamanteus, is also known as the Eastern diamondback rattlesnake. It is a venomous specie found predominantly in Mexico and the United State of America. This snake has been found to be responsible for most of the snake bite fatalities recorded in the Mexico and USA.

Adult Diamondback Rattlesnake can grow up to 4ft, however there has been a rare maximum recorded length of 7ft. While males often become larger than female, the difference does not occur until they reach sexual maturity. Rattlesnakes have medium-size weight of between 1.7 and 2.8kg. The predominant colour of the Diamondback is gray-brown but in rare occasions, the snake may appear brick red, pink-brown, pinkish or yellowish. The dorsal part of the body of the snake is characterized by 25 blotches that are normally brown or gray-brown in colour, while the tail normally has 2-8 black bands. The specie predominant to Mexico normally have dark tails with no rings.Diamondback is also characterized by some vertebral stripes running down its neck.

Life cycle
The life expectancy of the Diamondback Rattlesnake is over 20 years , however, only few survive till adulthood. A newly born Diamond back measures less than a third of the length of an adult snake, but the activities of predators such as Hawks and Eagles limit the chances of its survival. The gestation period of the pregnant female snake lasts for between 6 and 7 months and the female successfully breeds up to dozen young ones. Young snakes are capable of producing venom right from the day they are born.

Diamondback Rattlesnake is often found in the flat coastal plains, as well as hillsides and steep rocky canyons. The snake can be found around diverse vegetation types including; sandy creosotes, grasslands, desert scrubs, and pine oak forests.

The Diamond Rattlesnake prefers to consume smaller mammals and such include dogs, pocket gophers, Kangaroo rats, squirrels, voles, rabbits, and other animals such as birds, and lizards. Rather than strangulating its prey to the ground, the snake bites and deliver its venom into its prey with a single bite.

Diamond Rattlesnake prefers to be in a solitary state, except during the mating season, and it is mostly inactive between the latest October and early march period. Occasionally, the snake may be found sun-bathing in warm winter period, but love to hibernate in burrows and caves during extreme winter seasons. Diamondback rattlesnake is a poor climber, and its natural predators include the likes of Hawks, Eagles and some larger snakes. The snake often coils and rattle just to warn off aggressors, and has great capabilities to stand its ground when confronted by an enemy. Like most other Pit vipers, the Diamondback rattle snake produces proteolytic venoms that can disable any prey within few seconds.

The scientific name of this particular snake is Crotalus adamanteus. This snake can come in different colors and is not restricted to one shade. The different variations of color are mentioned below.

1.Black and gray
2.Muddy gray
3.Olive green

Interestingly, light reflects off its body because of the scales and this makes the skin of the Eastern Diamondback Rattlesnake appear flat even though it is pretty shiny. The body is of a different shade than the tail. The tail is usually brown or gray and has prominent rings around it which are easily visible. As the name suggests, it has a pattern that is diamond-shaped around the back of its body. Around its eyes, it has a black ring which is made further distinct by two pale lines outlining the black ring. The vertical pupil resembles that of a cats and not only this but on its face, there is a pit that separates the nostril from the eye.

They are 0.7-1.8 meters in length which is equivalent to 3-6 feet. It has been reported that a few Eastern Diamondback Rattlesnakes have reached up to 8 feet long. They have huge heads which can weigh up to 10 pounds.

They are widely present in the southeastern part of the United States. They prefer to reside in areas that are moist e.g. wet prairies and areas that surround the wetlands. They have also been found in abandoned farmlands and pine forests. They are not very keen on swimming but if required they can swim in salt water around the borders of the swamps and even between barrier reefs.

The Eastern Diamondback Rattlesnake is carnivorous and usually makes small mammals its prey including birds and rats. If the snake is young it opts for smaller prey such as the ones mentioned previously while on the other hand, adult snakes feed on relatively larger animals such as squirrels and rabbits. The spot the location of their prey through different ways such as its scent, the heat given off by the prey's body, and even by the infrared waves. It might not be that long but it can still hit and strike animals 75% (2/3) of its length. It is a very deadly snake as each of its bites contains a lot of venom. The Eastern Diamondback Rattlesnake strikes its prey and then releases it. It then patiently waits for it to die and then goes ahead to consume it once it is not alive anymore. The adult snakes do not have to worry about any predators; however, the younger ones have to be careful as they can be prey of other animals such as hogs, hawks, grey foxes, and even other snakes.

The Eastern Diamondback Rattlesnake prefers solitude. When it comes to mating with the female snakes, they compete by asserting their dominance. Their breeding months are around late summer/fall and they gestate for 6-7 months before giving birth to 6-20 snakes. The eggs hatch in the body of the female snake and it gives birth in areas with protection such as a hollow logs.

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