Eastern Diamondback Rattlesnake
Biome: Southern Swamps
Biography: The eastern diamondback rattlesnake is the largest venomous snake in North America and may reach 8 feet in length. This snake is a type of pit viper and can be identified by the pattern of diamonds along its back, vertical pupils and the rattle at the end of the tail. The facial pits are between the nostril and the eye and are used to detect infrared heat from warm-blooded prey, including rabbits, rodents and birds. When threatened, the rattlesnake shakes its tail and the vibrating segments produce the buzzing sound. Each time a rattlesnake sheds its skin, a new hollow segment is added to the rattle. A diamondback rattlesnake can strike up to 2/3 of its body length and venom is injected through its curved fangs for killing its prey. The venom attacks red blood cells and causes severe tissue damage. These rattlesnakes will often seek shelter in gopher tortoise and armadillo burrows during the winter months. Young diamondback rattlesnakes are preyed upon by raptors, some mammals, and king and indigo snakes. Adult diamondbacks have few enemies.
Eastern diamondback rattlesnakes inhabit the Lower Coastal Plain of the southeastern United States, from southern North Carolina to eastern Louisiana, including all of Florida.