The eastern diamondback rattlesnake is the largest rattlesnake in the world, reaching lengths of up to 8 feet. Living in the coastal plain from North Carolina to Louisiana, its numbers are declining dangerously due to loss of habitat via human predation though rattlesnake roundups, killing on sight and road mortality. Only North Carolina has named the eastern diamondback an endangered species to protect it.
As of 2014, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is in the process, begun in 2011, of a review to determine whether the eastern diamondback qualifies as a threatened species under the Endangered Species Act. Named for the dark-brown- or black- diamond pattern, edged in cream, running down its back and rattle at the end of its tail, the eastern diamondback rattlesnake preys on small mammals, including mice and rats, that are pests to humans. The eastern diamondback's venom is potent; when people are severely bitten, the mortality rate is nearly 40 percent. The risk of an eastern diamondback bite is very small, because the typically solitary snake avoids humans and gives a warning with its rattle when it feels threatened. Most people bitten are professional snake handlers or people hunting the snakes to trap or kill them.