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Thursday, February 25, 2010


I have no idea whether these pictures are genuine or not, but they purport to be of an Eastern diamondback rattlesnake caught recently in Florida. I had no idea that they could grow this big, because the only species that I have ever encountered in the wild is the Eastern Missasagua rattlesnake (Sistrurus catenatus), which grows no longer than 30ins. However, according to Wikipedia (and I know that in some quarters it is thought that relying on Wikipedia for accurate information is about as useful as relying on me for weight loss tips), yer Eastern diamondback can grow to eight feet in length.

The pics were sent to me by a lady called Paula, along with the following information:

Guess what was found just south of Jacksonville. Near the St. Augustine outlet, in a new KB homes subdivision.

  • 15 foot Eastern Diamondback rattlesnake. Largest ever caught on record.
  • After seeing this, I did a little research, and learned the following:
  • One bite from a snake this large contains enough venom to kill over 40 full grown men.
  • The head alone is larger than the hand of a normal sized man.
  • This snake was probably alive when George H. W. Bush was President.
  • A bite from those fangs would equal being penetrated by two 1/4 inch screwdrivers.
  • A snake this size could easily swallow a 2 year-old child.
  • A snake this size has an approximately 5 and 1/2 foot accurate striking distance. (The distance for an average size Rattlesnake is about 2 feet)
  • Judging by the size of the snake, it is estimated to weigh over 170 pounds. How much do you weigh?
I refuse to answer the last question, but would be interested to hear what the herpetologists and the photographers who regularly visit the bloggo make of this....


Dale Drinnon said...

The measurements could be exaggerated but in fact that is not far for the record of the species. Records for the Eastern Diamondback include reports of 10-12 feet long and I think the record for the Western Diamondback has been stated to be 14 feet. That is in some editions of the Guinness Book of World's Records, I do not have the most recent edition.

The problem in these cases, as in the case of all record-breaking cases, is that some experts simply throw out the larger measurements that they do not like and settle on something smaller that they can handle. There are RECORDS of 35- to40-foot anacondas, but the records are usually discounted.

shiva said...

Forced perspective photos. 8 feet is a more reasonable length.

The trouble with those 35-40ft anaconda records is, IIRC, that they come from preserved skins rather than live or freshly killed animals. Snake skin is extremely stretchy and just the process of skinning a dead snake can significantly increase the length of the skin compared to that of the intact animal.

Scopi said...

Are those RECORDS backed up by physical evidence? Then why should we believe them? If I claimed to have the run the 100 meter dash faster than the world record would you believe me, or would you ask me to actually do it? What, my written RECORD just now isn't enough for you?

As for the pictures, it's pretty obviously not an unusually large rattlesnake. Yet another in the in exploding genre of pictures with skewed perspective that cryptozoologists just can't resist.

Toirtis said...

The measurement is quite exaggerated. The photos have been taken in such a manner that the perspective makes the snake appear much larger than it actually is, when in fact, it is simply much closer to the camera than any of the reference points.

Crotalus adamanteus maximum verifiably recorded length is 244cm (8')(L. Klauber 1972), and for C. atrox the record is 213cm (7')(L. Klauber, 1972)...and understand that the vast majority of specimens fall well below these extremes. I can imagine a possible 305cm (10') specimen in either species, but would be highly suspicious of anything larger, especially twice the current largest recorded length.

charlie said...

Eastern Diamondbacks can grow up to 8 feet (which is still a really big snake) but the average is 3-6' and 15 feet is a bit of a fisherman's tale. It might also be noted that in both of the photos the snake is being held by a pole in the foreground making it appear much larger than it actually is.
This snake was originally reported as being "possibly 6'long" by the person who called police. An officer who didn't see the snake -only these photos- guessed it might be 10'. Unfortunately it wasn't measured.
The actual news report is available at http://staugustine.com/stories/093009/news_093009_023.shtml

@eloh said...

1981... night march at an Army base in Alabama. Young recruit got hit... the fang marks were two inches apart.

Several of the drills hunted the snake but it was never found.

Fortunately for the kid it was a dry bite.

I have no doubt the Eastern Diamondback can and does get big...very big.

Syd said...

"This snake was probably alive when George H. W. Bush was President".
What a pity it never met up with him.

D. Ratliff said...

I believe there's been a recanting of the size of this particular snake to just under 8 feet in length. The size in the photos is due to perspective.

Though my father has always said there are almost certainly rattlesnakes out in the boonies that do get a good 10-14 feet. :) (This is my first post, btw. Love your blogs and the CFZ work!)

Chris said...

The measurements *are* exaggerated, by the account below: