The longest venomous snake species in North America is the eastern diamond-shaped rattlesnake, or Crotalus adamanteus… They are also the longest rattlesnakes in the world, so it’s no surprise that the largest rattlesnake ever found was also the eastern diamond back.
In 1946, a hunter shot an Oriental specimen with a diamond-shaped back, which he recognized in the Guinness Book of Records in 1982 only by its single name Rutledge, and its length was seven feet nine inches. His loot weighed 34 pounds, which is about four gallons of milk. This is definitely tough on a rattlesnake, but not nearly as tough as several other shorter venomous snakes like the gaboon viper. There is no mention of where the animal was killed or how old it was when it was shot.
Although these snakes are believed to be up to eight feet in length, no snake of this size, when properly measured from the nose to the base of the rattle, has ever been found. Two Eastern Diamondbacks, believed to be longer than Rutledge’s, were killed in Florida. However, their stated length in excess of eight feet has been questioned because it is suspected that the snakes were measured to the tip of the rattle, and not just to the base, as is the standard. The Guinness Book does not provide any information on when and by whom they were killed.
Since then, no other eastern rattles of this length have been recorded. In the 1950s, a man named E. Ross Allen reportedly offered a bounty for a living specimen of a rattlesnake at least eight feet long, but he stated that no one ever took the bounty. He did receive skins that exceeded this length, but the length of the skin is not an accurate indicator of how long the snake has been alive.
How big is 7’9 ” for a rattlesnake?
While it is hardly unheard of to spot a seven-foot rattlesnake, most rattlesnakes are less than six feet in length, usually around five and a half feet, which is the size of an average human. However, 34 pounds is quite heavy, as most of the diamond-backed eastern rattlesnakes weigh around 10-15 pounds. By comparison, the largest wooden rattlesnake ever recorded was only about six and a half feet long.
The next largest eastern diamond-backed rattlesnake
In September 2009, in St. Augustine, Florida, a local animal hunter caught and killed an eastern diamond on the territory of one of the units. This specimen was seven feet three inches long, although it appears much larger in photographs taken by the local sheriff’s deputies that day. If his weight was recorded, then, unfortunately, no news outlets reported about it.
In February 2021, the Central Florida Zoo and Botanical Garden announced they had a similarly sized rattlesnake. They weigh 20 pounds and are seven feet four inches long, which is roughly the length of a king-size mattress and a medium-sized dog. Edgar, as they named their rattlesnake, was born in captivity and was 19 years old as of 2021. In fact, it is more rare because of its coloration than because of its size. The Edgar snake is also albino, which means it has no pigmentation on its skin or eyes. Most rattlesnakes do not live to be 20 years old, so Edgar is an elderly specimen.
Biggest rattlesnake controversy
While there is no doubt that the Eastern Diamond Spin, discovered in Florida, is one of the largest rattlesnakes on record, reports of the snake began circulating on the Internet in the late fall of 2009. These reports contained real photographs of the snake, but information about the size and location of the snake was falsified to reflect a length more than twice the length of the actual snake found. As stated earlier, the snake photos were misleading because the perspective made the snake appear much larger than it actually was.
Eastern Diamondback Facts
The Eastern Diamondback rattlesnake is a venomous viper species found only in the southeastern United States, between the east coast and the Mississippi River and south of the Florida Keys. These snakes are carnivores that prey mainly on various rodents, as well as some other small mammals. Mammals are their preferred diet, although they occasionally eat lizards and frogs. The rattlesnakes themselves are a frequent food source for raccoons, some other snakes, and some birds of prey. Oriental Diamondbacks can thrive in a wide variety of habitats, from desert to forests and even sometimes swamps. They are very good swimmers and can travel between the islands in the Keys. Their rattles are made from the same substance as human nails. Their venom can be deadly, but these snakes are not aggressive. The scientific name Eastern Diamondback literally translates to rattlesnake diamond.
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