The eastern diamondback is characterized by yellowish diamonds along its back and a dark stripe through its eyes. They serve a very important role in the ecosystem as natural pest control, eating potentially thousands of rodents in their lifetime. The eastern diamondback rattlesnake is the longest venomous snake in North America, and the longest rattlesnake in the world!
Rattlesnakes get their name from the rattle at the end of their tail. This serves as a defense warning. The snake can shake the rattle up to 90 times PER SECOND! That's faster than a hummingbird can flap it's wings! The rattle is made up of several keratinous rings. Every time the snake sheds, a new ring is added. Snakes may shed several times every year, so the myth that the number of rings indicates the snake's age is false. Additionally, the brittle rattle may break off. Although eastern diamondbacks are considered common, their populations are decreasing. Habitat loss is a main threat. Additionally, there are no regulations on the killing of rattlesnakes. In fact, some states throughout the southeast still have "Rattlesnake Roundups" where people go out to kill rattlesnakes. Many conservationists, including team members of the Central Florida Zoo, are working to change these roundups into festivals, and help educate people on the importance and value of rattlesnakes.
The largest rattlesnake species in the world, eastern diamondbacks have the potential to grow to over 8 feet. Their population is in decline due to habitat loss and unnecessary killing by the public.
The Central Florida Zoo is also home to albino eastern diamondback rattlesnakes. These snakes do not produce the normal skin pigment, however, you can still see the outlines of diamonds along their back.
Native to southeast U.S., from North Carolina south to Florida, and west to Mississippi
Usually upland pine ecosystems, but can be found in a wide range of habitat types
Eastern diamondback rattlesnakes may reach lengths up to 8 feet, although the average is around 5-6 feet. Weight is usually around 10 pounds.
Rodents and other small animals. As young, they eat lizards and frogs.
Birds of prey, raccoons, and other snakes may eat rattlesnakes, especially juveniles
Venom helps the snake get its food and also defend itself. The rattle serves as a warning sign. Eastern diamondbacks also have excellent camouflage.
Female eastern diamondbacks give birth to 6-21 live young. These young snakes are born with venom and able to catch prey on their own.