Eastern diamondback Crotalus adamanteus

Eastern diamondbacks will typically be reported as measuring anywhere from 2' to 22 feet long. On the rare occasions they are actually measured, they generally turn out to be be from 8" to 5'. If you locate a 6' animal today, it is a rarity. Most are between 2' and 4'. This snake being held by Dr. Bryan Grieg Fry is a 10 year old captive raised specimen. How long do you think this snake is? Take a guess and then click here.

Identifying characteristics: Has a visible (and audible) rattle. Heavy, triangular head with a distinct neck. Elliptical (cat eye) vertical pupils. Tan to greyish brown with darker brown or black blotches that are roughly diamond shaped. Heavy bodied and terrestrial; not found in trees or high off the ground. Tends to move slowly and deliberately unless provoked or frightened. Often found in association with gopher tortoise burrows and saw palmetto habitat. Scales are rough and keeled, not shiny. May or may not strike in self defense. May or may not rattle.

Do not attempt to hold a rattlesnake by the tail unless you are a professional like the venom researcher depicted above. Typical strike range is from 1/3 to 1/2 its body length, but this may increase if the temperature is over 85F. A good general rule of thumb is to give a snake about one snake-length of room. When handling with hook or tongs, do not lift large individuals entirely off the ground. Use your tool to catch the snake about 1/3 of the way down from the head and drag or push it towards a tipped-over garbage can. That technique is illustrated on this page in a photo tutorial from the University of Florida, using an ordinary household broom.

This snake can cause human fatality. Wyeth Crotalidae polyvalent is effective if the hospital has any stocks left. The Wyeth product is known to have a high percentage of antibodies for the venom of this species, but it can cause serum sickness and other complications. CroFab ovine polyvalent by ProTherics is currently being recommended. Eastern diamondbacks north of Gainesville and in some isolated populations all over Florida may have a potently paralytic myotoxin. If the victim exhibits fasciculation (involuntary muscle twitches or spasms), numbness or tingling in the face or extremities, or lower body paralysis, it may be wise to apply pressure immobilization to delay further systemic effects. Wrap the bitten limb proximal to the bite site as you would a sprain with a compression bandage, splint the limb and keep it below the heart. This is not an arterial tourniquet. Click here for a further discussion of snake bite and envenomation.

Click below to see more Eastern diamondback images and information:

Quick guide    Animal Diversity Web     Unversity of Florida     Coastal Reptiles


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