How can I identify an Eastern diamondback rattlesnake?


Quick Answer

Eastern diamondback rattlesnakes are most easily identified by their namesake diamonds. The diamonds are brown in the center, darkening to black toward the outer edge, with a pale tan border around the perimeter.

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Full Answer

The eastern diamondback is the largest North American rattlesnake. The species averages 3 to 6 feet in length, with some individuals reaching 8 feet. It is also a heavy-bodied snake, weighing up to 10 pounds. While the overall coloring of the animal encompasses varying shades of brown and gray, the iconic, tri-colored diamonds are a dead giveaway. There is also a distinctive light-bordered black stripe through the eye.

Eastern diamondbacks inhabit dry scrub and woodland in the southeastern United States. They prey heavily on small mammals and play an important role in controlling nuisance rodent and rabbit populations. While the eastern diamondback is not endangered or federally protected, it is declining throughout much of its range. No reports exist of the snake in North Carolina since approximately 1990. Rattlesnake roundups take a toll on the species, which is slow-growing and slow to reproduce.

Eastern diamondbacks rattle readily and stand their ground in the face of provocation. However, when left alone they are relatively shy snakes, preferring avoidance to confrontation. Most bites occur when humans attempt to harass or capture the snakes.

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