Discover the Largest Rattlesnake Ever Caught in Florida

Large eastern diamondback rattlesnake
© Chase D'animulls/Shutterstock.com

Written by Jennifer Gaeng

Updated: September 20, 2023

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Today, we will learn about the largest rattlesnake ever recorded in Florida! While Florida is known for its beaches, it’s also home to a lot of animals, especially snakes. While there are a lot of large snakes in Florida, there is also a decent number of rattlesnakes. So, let’s find out which is the largest rattlesnake ever recorded in the state of Florida!

Infographic of the Largest Rattlesnake Caught in Florida
Eastern diamondback rattlesnakes can be found in Florida, Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, and parts of North Carolina.

Largest Rattlesnake Recorded in Florida

Eastern Diamondback Rattlesnake Close Up

The largest rattlesnake recorded in Florida was an eastern diamondback rattlesnake.

©iStock.com/Wide-River-Rick

As for the largest rattlesnake recorded in Florida, it would be a massive 8-foot 3-inch eastern diamondback rattlesnake! While eastern diamondback rattlesnakes usually range anywhere from 2 to 6 feet in length, this monster has it beat by a lot! So, what is an eastern diamondback rattlesnake? Let’s look and find out!

Eastern Diamondback Rattlesnake: An Overview 

Eastern diamondback rattlesnakes are venomous pit vipers that belong to the Viperidae family. They are native to the southeastern regions of the United States and are not only the heaviest venomous snakes in the U.S. but are also the largest rattlesnakes. These snakes are incredibly large and very venomous, but they rarely attack humans unless they are provoked. You can typically find eastern diamondbacks in Florida. However, they are also found in other states in the southeast region of the United States.

Size and Appearance

Large eastern diamondback rattlesnake

Eastern diamondback rattlesnakes’ pattern often fades towards their tail.

©Chase D’animulls/Shutterstock.com

Eastern diamondbacks are long, heavy-bodied snakes with a signature rattle on their tails. They are typically brownish-yellow, brownish-gray, or olive in color. They have several deep brown diamond-shaped blotches that have lightened centers all throughout their bodies. Their bellows are typically yellow or cream-colored, with dark coloration on their side. These snakes have a dark stripe on their heads that extend from their eye to their lip. This stripe is often bordered by white or yellow stripes.

As for size, eastern diamondbacks are among the largest rattlesnakes in the world and are also heavy. They range anywhere from 2 to 6 feet in length and can weigh anywhere between 12 and 15 pounds. While specimens over 6 feet are rare, they have been documented on several occasions, mostly in Florida. While the largest rattlesnake ever recorded in Florida was over 8 feet, the heaviest eastern diamondback was documented at 34 pounds!

Diet

Eastern diamondbacks are carnivorous and rely on small mammals for their meals. They are usually found eating both mice and rabbits. However, their diet can include birds as well. When these snakes sense prey nearby, they strike and deliver a powerful, venomous bite. They will follow the scent of the dying prey before they swallow it. While the average eastern diamondback eats small mammals, larger specimens have been seen eating rabbits, squirrels, and even young wild turkeys.

Habitat

Florida Rattler

Eastern diamondbacks are endemic to the southeast United States.

©iStock.com/Paulo Almeida

Since eastern diamondbacks are endemic to the southeast United States, you will always find them in Florida. However, they have also been spotted in Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, and even southern parts of North Carolina. These snakes dwell in the dry pine forests, sandhills, marshes, swamp forests, sandy woodlands, and even wet prairies when they dry. If they are in regions with colder winters, they are known to hibernate in mammal burrows or hollow logs and tree stumps.

Danger

The eastern diamondback rattlesnake is not only known for being the largest rattlesnake, but it is the most dangerous venomous snake in America. It has large fangs, one of the largest in the world for rattlesnakes. Once it bites, its venom releases an enzyme called Crotalase. This venom can cause hemorrhaging and intense pain. Once an eastern diamondback bites, it releases 400-450 milligrams of this venom. The lethal human dose is estimated to be around 100-150 milligrams. This bite has a 10-30% mortality rate and usually kills a person if left untreated.

Lifespan

It is estimated that the natural lifespan of eastern diamondback rattlesnakes is 15-20 years in the wild. However, scientists say that they rarely have seen specimens live longer than 10 years. Eastern diamondbacks that live in captivity, such as in zoos or rehabilitation centers, have been said to live closer to 20 years. This is due to consistent care, habitat conservation, and not being hunted or killed recklessly in the wild. These snakes are often maliciously hunted in the wild by humans for their skin and meat.

Conclusion

eastern diamondback rattlesnake curled up in grass

The eastern diamondback rattlesnake was a symbol on one of the first flags of the United States.

©iStock.com/NajaShots

Although eastern diamondback rattlesnakes are highly venomous and dangerous snakes, they rarely pose a threat to humans. These snakes are not endangered. However, their populations are declining rapidly due to habitat loss and hunting. Right now, they receive no federal protection and are surely on their way to becoming vulnerable. If you spot one in the wild, stay away and let it continue along its path.

Other Record-Breaking Snakes

If you find record-breaking snakes to be a fascinating subject, let’s delve into venomous snakes in the U.S. What kind of snake do you imagine breaks the record as being the largest venomous snake ever found in the United States? This famous snake was an eastern diamondback rattlesnake, which weighed a whopping 34 pounds and measured 94 inches in length (7 feet 9 inches) — about the maximum length these venomous creatures typically grow to. However, the average weight for an eastern diamondback rattlesnake usually peaks at 15 pounds or so.

In 1946, an eastern diamondback specimen was shot by a hunter, identified by only the singular name Rutledge in the 1982 Guinness Book of World Records. While there is no record of where this particular snake was found, eastern diamondback rattlesnakes are a venomous species of pit viper found only in the southeastern United States, between the east coast and the Mississippi River and south to the Florida Keys. Read more about this awe-inspiring snake in the article below.

Discover the "Monster" Snake 5X Bigger than an Anaconda

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About the Author

Jennifer Gaeng is a writer at A-Z-Animals focused on animals, lakes, and fishing. With over 15 years of collective experience in writing and researching, Jennifer has honed her skills in various niches, including nature, animals, family care, and self-care. Hailing from Missouri, Jennifer finds inspiration in spending quality time with her loved ones. Her creative spirit extends beyond her writing endeavors, as she finds joy in the art of drawing and immersing herself in the beauty of nature.

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