Discover the Largest Rattlesnake Ever!

Written by Dana Mayor
Updated: September 21, 2023
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Key Points:
  • Rattlesnakes normally grow up to 5.5 feet in length.
  • Eastern diamondback rattlesnakes generally weigh 10-15 pounds.
  • However, specimens reaching 8 feet and even weighing 34 pounds have been recorded.

The longest species of venomous snake in North America is the eastern diamondback rattlesnake , or Crotalus adamanteus. They are also the longest rattlesnakes in the world, so it should come as no real surprise that the largest rattlesnake ever found was also an eastern diamondback.

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. The eastern diamondback rattlesnake measured 7 feet 9 inches in length, the longest on record for a rattlesnake. His kill weighed 34 pounds, which is about as much as four gallons of milk. That is definitely heavy for a rattlesnake, but it is not as heavy as several other shorter species of venomous snake, such as the gaboon viper. There is no mention of where the animal was killed or how old it was when it was shot.

Infographic of the Largest Rattlesnake Ever
Eastern diamondback rattlesnakes are a venomous species of pit viper found only in the southeastern United States.

While it is purported that these snakes can reach lengths of up to 8 feet, no snake matching that size, when appropriately measured from nose to the base of the rattle, has ever been located. Two eastern diamondback specimens which were supposedly longer than Rutledge’s were killed in Florida . However, their reported lengths, both in excess of 8 feet, have been called into question because it is suspected the snakes were actually measured to the tip of the rattle instead of merely to the base, as is the standard. Guinness World Records does not give any information on when they were killed or by whom.

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No other eastern diamondback rattlers of that length have ever been documented since that time. In the 1950s a man named E. Ross Allen reportedly offered a reward for a live rattlesnake specimen that was at least 8 feet long, but he stated no one ever claimed the reward. He did receive skins that exceeded that length, but the length of a skin is not an accurate indication of how long the snake was while alive.

Eastern Diamondback Rattlesnake Close Up

©iStock.com/Wide-River-Rick

How Large Is 7 feet 9 Inches for a Rattlesnake?

Though finding a 7-foot rattlesnake is hardly unheard of, most rattlesnakes are under 6 feet in length, usually around 5.5 feet, the same size as the average human being. However, 34 pounds is quite heavy, as most eastern diamondback rattlesnakes weigh in around 10-15 pounds. By comparison, the largest timber rattlesnake ever recorded was only about 6.5 feet long.

Eastern Diamondback Rattlesnake (Crotalus adamanteus) in Florida

Most eastern diamondback rattlesnakes weigh in around 10-15 pounds.

©Kristian Bell/Shutterstock.com

Next Largest Eastern Diamondback Rattlesnakes

In September 2009, in St. Augustine, Florida , an eastern diamondback was caught and killed inside a subdivision by a local animal trapper. That specimen was 7 feet 3 inches long, though photographs taken on the day by local sheriff’s deputies make it appear much larger. If its weight was recorded, it was unfortunately not reported by any news outlets.

In February 2021, the Central Florida Zoo and Botanical Gardens announced it had a rattlesnake of similar size. Theirs weighs 20 pounds and is 7 feet 4 inches long, or about the length of a queen size mattress and a medium-sized dog. Edgar, as they have named their rattlesnake, was born in captivity and was 19 years old as of 2021. He is actually more rare for his coloration than his size. Edgar the snake is also an albino, meaning he has no pigmentation in his skin or eyes. Most rattlesnakes do not live past 20 years old, so Edgar is an elderly specimen.

Largest Rattlesnake Controversy

While there is no question that the eastern diamondback that was found in Florida is one of the largest rattlesnakes on record, during the late fall of 2009, posts about the snake began circulating around the internet. These posts contained the actual photographs of the snake, but the information about the snake’s size and location had been falsified to reflect a length more than twice that of the snake that was actually found. As previously stated, the photos of the snake were misleading, with the perspective making the snake appear much larger than it was.

Eastern Diamondback Facts

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. These snakes are carnivores that prey primarily on a variety of rodents, along with a few other small mammals. Mammals are their preferred diet, though they will occasionally eat lizards and frogs. The rattlers themselves are a frequent food source for racoons, some other snakes, and several birds of prey. Eastern diamondbacks can thrive in a variety of different habitats, ranging from desert to woodlands, and even occasionally swamps. They are very good swimmers and can travel between islands in the Florida Keys. Their rattles are made out of keratin — the same substance as human fingernails. Their venom can be deadly, but these snakes are not aggressive. The eastern diamondback’s scientific name literally translates to rattlesnake diamond.

Large eastern diamondback rattlesnake

The eastern diamondback rattlesnake’s pattern often fades toward its tail.

©Chase D’animulls/Shutterstock.com

Other Record-Breaking Snakes

When it comes to record-breaking snakes in history, there are numerous species that come to mind. Whether it is their size, length, or venom potency, these serpents have made a lasting impact on the world we live in today. One particular snake that stands out as being a true record-breaker is the reticulated python. This massive reptile can grow up to 30 feet long and weigh more than 350 pounds, making it not only one of the longest snakes on earth but also one of the heaviest.

The reticulated python can be found throughout Southeast Asia and has been known to prey on everything from small rodents to large mammals like deer and wild boar. Its powerful jaws allow it to swallow its prey whole, which has led many people around the world to be fascinated with this incredible creature.

In addition to its impressive size and strength, another reason why the reticulated python is considered a record-breaking snake is because of its longevity. These creatures can live for more than 25 years in captivity, which makes them not only an impressive sight but also a significant investment for those who choose to keep them as pets.

Animals That Molt - Reticulated Python

Reticulated pythons break lots of records for length, weight, and lifespan.

©Mark_Kostich/Shutterstock.com

The photo featured at the top of this post is © Mark_Kostich/Shutterstock.com

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About the Author

I love good books and the occasional cartoon. I am also endlessly intrigued with the beauty of nature and find hummingbirds, puppies, and marine wildlife to be the most magical creatures of all.

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