This species of rattlesnake resides in the southeastern United States from southeast North Carolina to Florida and the Florida Keys, west to southern Mississippi and extreme eastern Louisiana.
The eastern diamondback rattlesnake lives in palmetto thickets, dry pinewoods, scrublands, abandoned fields and brushy, grassy areas within its distribution or range.
- Eastern diamondback rattlesnakes average three to six feet (1-2 cm) in length but have been known to reach eight feet (2.25 m).
- Their scales are olive to brown in color with a distinctive pattern of large dark diamond shaped markings with yellow borders.
- The tail is brown or gray banded with dark rings ending in a well-developed rattle.
- They have inch long fangs and heat-detecting pits between the eyes and nostrils.
What Does It Eat?
In the wild: Small mammals including mice, rabbits and squirrels plus a variety of birds.
At the zoo: Rats and mice.
What Eats It?
Juveniles are vulnerable to predation by raptors and other snakes, hogs and fox. Adults are preyed on by larger snakes, hogs and humans.
Rattlesnakes are solitary except during breeding season when snakes gather together in large groups.
Courtship and mating take place from late July through early October. During the mating season, males compete for females through combat sessions. Males raise the front section of their bodies and become entwined with each other and try to throw the other to the ground. The victor wins the right to breed with females in that area. After a gestation period of six to seven months females give birth to live young in a ground burrow or hollow log. Brood sizes range from six to 21 young and females may only bear young every two to three years. Females have been known to protect the young for the first few days after they are born. Newborn snakes are fully formed miniature adults about 12 inches (30 cm) long. They are able to care for themselves at birth and are equipped with needle-sharp fangs and venom powerful enough to deliver a lethal bite to a grown man. Young rattlesnakes have many enemies and a high mortality rate. If they survive, Eastern diamondback rattlesnakes reach maturity in three to four years. In captivity, rattlesnakes may live 20-25 years.