Discover the Largest Red Diamond Rattlesnake Ever Recorded

Written by Kellianne Matthews
Updated: August 28, 2023
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Key Points

  • Red diamond rattlesnakes are big snakes that look very similar to western diamondback rattlesnakes.
  • Adult red diamond rattlesnakes are between 24-54 inches in length.
  • Some male red diamond rattlesnakes may grow 58-59 inches, but this is rare.

One of the most iconic rattlesnakes in the human imagination is the western diamondback rattlesnake—but did you know that this is not the only “diamondback” rattlesnake out there? There are actually three different rattlesnake species that use the name “diamondback”, including the beautiful and impressive red diamond rattlesnake.

This snake goes by many names, such as the red diamondback rattlesnake, the red rattler, and the red rattlesnake. Each of its various names, however, reflects one of its most prominent characteristics: its beautiful red coloring.

Like its two diamondback cousins, the red diamond rattlesnake is a long and heavy snake that lives in the United States. But just how big can it get?

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Let’s take a closer look at this impressive snake and discover the largest red diamond rattlesnake ever recorded!

What Do Red Diamond Rattlesnakes Look Like?

Coiled red diamond rattlesnake

Red diamondback rattlesnakes coil up, rattle, and may strike when they’re threatened.

©Creeping Things/Shutterstock.com

Red diamond rattlesnakes are big snakes with heavy bodies that look very similar to western diamondback rattlesnakes. However, the main difference between these snakes is that red diamond rattlesnakes have reddish- or reddish-brown bodies. This is reflected in their scientific name, Crotalus ruber, as the Latin word “ruber” means “red”.

Like other diamondback rattlesnakes, these snakes also have diamond-shaped patterns running along the middle of their backs, with each diamond marking outlined with light edges. In addition, the end of a red diamond rattlesnake’s tail has distinct black and white alternating rings.

They also have rattles at the end of their tails, which are made up of keratin segments. These segments rattle against one another when the snake vibrates its tail.

As a type of pit viper, red diamond rattlesnakes have large, wide heads that are twice as wide as the snake’s neck and shaped like a big, rounded triangle. They have large eyes with vertical or elliptical pupils, much like a cat. Behind each eye is a light-colored, diagonal stripe that runs to the back of the snake’s head.

There are two heat-sensing organs that look like small holes or a second pair of nostrils below the snake’s eyes. These organs are called “loreal pits”, and they help the snakes to sense and build a heat image map in their brains, allowing them to “see” the world around them, even in the dark.

The red diamond rattlesnake, like all rattlesnakes, is believed to have evolved from a common ancestor that lived millions of years ago.

Evolution and Origins of The Red Diamond Rattlesnake

The red diamond rattlesnake (Crotalus ruber) is a species of venomous pit viper found in the southwestern United States and northwestern Mexico. Its origins and evolution are not well understood, but it is believed to have evolved from a common ancestor with other rattlesnake species in the region.

Over time, the red diamond rattlesnake may have developed unique adaptations and traits due to genetic variation and natural selection in its specific environment. However, more research is needed to determine the exact evolutionary history of this species.

The red diamond rattlesnake, like all rattlesnakes, is believed to have evolved from a common ancestor that lived millions of years ago. This species, along with other rattlesnakes, likely evolved their characteristic rattles as a way to warn predators of their presence.

This snake is known for its distinctive red or pink diamond-shaped markings, which may have evolved as a means of camouflage or to signal to potential mates.

The Largest Red Diamond Rattlesnake Ever Recorded

When they are born, baby red diamond rattlesnakes are around 12 inches long with grayish-colored bodies. As they grow and mature, however, they gain more of their namesake red coloring. Adult red diamond rattlesnakes are usually between 24-54 inches in length and can weigh several pounds.

Snakes living within coastal environments tend to grow larger than those in mountain and desert habitats. Occasionally some of the larger male snakes may grow 58-59 inches, but this is quite rare.

However, the largest red diamond rattlesnake ever recorded went well beyond that length, growing to at least 64 inches long!

How Does the Largest Red Diamond Rattlesnake Compare to Other Types of Diamondback Rattlesnakes?

Western Diamondback Rattlesnake (Crotalus atrox)

Red Diamond Rattlesnakes have the iconic “diamond” patterns of diamondback rattlesnakes. However, Eastern Diamondback and Western Diamondback Rattlesnakes (as seen here) lack the red coloring of the red diamond rattlesnake.

©Alexander Wong/Shutterstock.com

Although 64 inches is an astounding length for a red diamond rattlesnake, their two diamondback rattlesnake relatives often grow much larger. For example, the iconic western diamondback rattlesnake grows between 4-6 feet on average, and in some cases even up to 7 feet long!

Of course, neither the red diamond rattlesnake nor the western diamondback rattlesnake can compete with the enormous eastern diamondback rattlesnake. The eastern diamondback rattlesnake is the largest rattlesnake in the world, with an all-time record size of 7.9 feet long and 34 pounds!

Where Do Red Diamond Rattlesnakes Live?

Red Diamondback Rattlesnake resting on the ground.

The Red Diamondback Rattlesnakes is a large, venomous snake with a red (less often grayish) color. The large rhombuses or diamonds along its back are slightly darker than the general background of the snake’s body.

©iStock.com/User10095428_393

Red diamond rattlesnakes live in the southwest portion of California down into the peninsula of Baja California and on several islands in the Gulf of California. Red diamond rattlesnakes live in environments that range from the desert to the mountains, as well as cooler regions along the coast.

They prefer habitats with rocky hillsides, cactus patches, sage scrub, outcrops, and the chaparral of the foothills. Although they generally stick to the ground, some snakes will occasionally climb up into low-growing cacti, shrubs, and sage as well.

Like many snakes, red diamond rattlesnakes create their own personalized “mental maps” of their surroundings, which allows them to return to the areas over time. These snakes, however, do not tend to venture too far, keeping a smaller home range that is typically not more than a couple of miles.

Are Red Diamond Rattlesnakes Dangerous?

red diamond rattlesnake striking

Showing off its large, angular head, a red diamond rattlesnake gets ready to strike. These snakes are typically docile and prefer to slither away rather than take a stand and fight.

©Creeping Things/Shutterstock.com

Unlike the notorious western diamondback rattlesnake, red diamond rattlesnakes are calm with a very mild temperament. These snakes rarely bite and will try to slither under cover or into rock crevices and rodent burrows when they feel threatened.

Red diamond rattlesnakes also have one of the least potent venoms among all rattlesnakes. However, they can deliver a large amount of venom in a single bite, which can be fatal if not treated properly. Fortunately, red diamond rattlesnakes rarely bite, as retreating is their preferred defense against threats.

Interestingly, the venom of red diamond rattlesnakes increases as they age, so a bite from an adult snake has the potential to be much worse than that of a younger snake. Red diamond rattlesnake bites can cause massive swelling, discoloration, intense pain, nausea and vomiting, and blood disruption.

What Do Red Diamond Rattlesnakes Eat?

Although red diamond rattlesnakes can be dangerous, they do not hunt or actively seek out humans. These snakes eat mammals like woodrats, ground squirrels, and rabbits, as well as lizards, other snakes, and sometimes birds. They are ambush hunters that lie in wait for their prey to pass by before striking.

Other Record-Breaking Snakes

The discovery of a gigantic python was made by a team consisting of two scientists and an intern associated with the Conservancy of Southwest Florida.

This group, comprising Ian Bartoszek, Ian Easterling, and Kyle Findley, did not chance upon the python. Instead, they used a method that involves tracking male pythons with GPS devices to locate females.

Additionally, the Burmese python that was captured measured 18 feet in length and weighed 215 lbs (97 kilograms), making it so heavy that three adults were needed to hold it up in a photo. Each of the adults held around 70 pounds of weight.

While the find was extremely impressive, Burmese pythons are a type of invasive species that pose a threat to native wildlife by preying on them and also competing with other animals for food. This includes some endangered species, such as the Key Largo woodrat.

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

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About the Author

Kellianne Matthews is a writer at A-Z Animals where her primary focus is on anthrozoology, conservation, human-animal relationships, and animal behavior. Kellianne has been writing and researching animals for over eight years and holds a Master’s Degree from Brigham Young University, which she earned in 2017. A resident of Utah, Kellianne enjoys creating, exploring and learning new things, and caring for her cats.

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