Eastern Diamondback

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Crotalus adamanteus is a venomous pitviper species found in the southeastern United States. It is the heaviest (though not longest) venomous snake in the Americas and the largest rattlesnake. No subspecies are currently recognized. A 7 ft., 3 in. specimen was caught and killed outside a neighborhood in St. Augustine, FL in Sep. 2009. Found in the southeastern United States from southeastern North Carolina, south along the coastal plain through peninsular Florida to the Florida Keys, and west along the Gulf Coast though southern Mississippi to southeastern Louisiana. The original description for the species does not include a type locality, although Schmidt (1953) proposed that it be restricted to "Charleston, South Carolina" (USA). Inhabits upland dry pine forest, pine and palmetto flatwoods, sandhills and coastal maritime hammocks, Longleaf Pine/Turkey Oak habitats, grass-sedge marshes and swamp forest, mesic hammocks, sandy mixed woodlands, xeric hammocks, salt marshes, as well as wet prairies during dry periods. In many areas it seems to use burrows made by gophers and gopher tortoises during the summer and winter. These snakes frequently shelter in mammal and gopher tortoise burrows, emerging in the early morning or afternoon to bask. Like most rattlesnakes, this species is terrestrial and not adept at climbing. However, they have on occasion been reported in bushes and trees, apparently in search of prey. Even large specimens have been spotted as much as 10 m above the ground. In contrast, they are well known to be excellent swimmers. Specimens have often been spotted crossing stretches of water between barrier islands and the mainland off the Georgia coast, in the Gulf of Mexico and in the Florida Keys, sometimes miles from land. One popular myth is that these snakes must rattle before striking. They are, of course quite capable of striking while remaining completely silent. In fact, according to one hypothesis, individuals that remain silent are less likely to be heard, seen and killed, and therefore more likely to pass on their genes to the next generation, leading to the idea that we are selecting for rattlesnakes that do not rattle. [READ THE REST OF THIS ARTICLE]



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