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!
Largest Rattlesnake Recorded In Florida
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 US 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
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 2-6 feet in length and can weigh anywhere between 12-15 lbs. 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 lbs!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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