Eastern Diamondback Rattlesnake
Crotalus adamanteus


Photo by ME Dorcas


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The shaded region represents the range of the eastern diamondback rattlesnake in
North Carolina.


Description: The eastern diamondback rattlesnake is the largest species of rattlesnake in the world and arguably the most dangerous snake native to the United States. They are very heavy-bodied pitvipers with a series of dark diamonds outlined in black running the length of their gray or yellowish backs. The diamonds on the tail tend to form into dark bands. Diamondbacks have two light lines running along the sides of their heads.

Feeding/diet: Diamondbacks are ambush predators. Adults will feed on rodents and rabbits.

Habitat/range: In North Carolina, diamondbacks are usually found in sandy pine flatwoods in the southeastern Coastal Plain. Unfortunately, due to habitat destruction and collecting and killing of adults, very few diamondback rattlesnakes survive in the state. Consequently, eastern diamondbacks are protected in North Carolina.

Reproduction: Eastern diamondbacks mate in August and September, and the females give birth the next fall to 7–21 babies that look like their parents. Female eastern diamondbacks probably reproduce only every 2–3 years.

Miscellaneous: The venom of the eastern diamondback is very destructive to tissues and, due to the snake’s large size, a bite results in a heavy injection of venom. Most of the time, diamondbacks rely on their excellent camouflage and try to remain undetected when a threat presents itself. Even if disturbed, most are very reluctant to bite and will typically try to escape first.  If unable to escape, they will usually rattle loudly as a warning and, if necessary, will bite.

An eastern diamondback eating a cottontail rabbit.
Photo by Drew Sanders

Photo by ME Dorcas

Note the diamonds with light centers on back and the two light stripes on face.
Photo by ME Dorcas

Photo by ME Dorcas Photo by ME Dorcas

This website created by: J. Willson, Y. Kornilev, W. Anderson, G. Connette and E. Eskew.
For comments or questions contact M. Dorcas: midorcas@davidson.edu.
M. Dorcas homepage: http://bio.davidson.edu/dorcas
Davidson College, Davidson, North Carolina 28035-1719.

Text and maps from: Dorcas, M. E. 2004. A Guide to the Snakes of North Carolina. Davidson College - Herpetology Laboratory, Davidson, NC. – Copyright by Michael E. Dorcas.

Partial Funding for this website provided by a Associate Colleges of the South, National Science Foundation, and Duke Energy.