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Saturday, December 17, 2011

You don’t want to meet this guy while prospecting; a 15 foot diamondback rattlesnake

The world's largest diamondback rattlesnake. Look at the sheriff's leg for a size comparison .

At fifteen feet this might be a new world’s record for the largest poisonous snake in the world.  This nightmarish monster was recently caught in St. Johns County, Florida by the St. Johns Sheriffs Department.  This snake was so big it looked more like a boa constrictor or python then a rattlesnake.  This snake weighed around 170 pounds and is capable of swallowing a two year old child or one of your pets.  The only poisonous snakes in the world that even approach this monster in size are the Bushmaster of Central and Northern South America or the King Cobra of Southern Asia.  This snake is capable of striking for a distance of seven and a half feet with venom so powerful one bite is capable of killing 50 men. A bite from this snake is like having two quarter inch curved screwdrivers driven into your flesh. This huge diamondback was caught near the St. Augustine Outlet in a new subdivision of KB homes just south of Jacksonville, Florida

The fangs of the largest rattlesnake. The blade on the knife is four inches long.

Rattlesnakes of this size are unusual, but it was in 2009 that one almost this big was caught in Alabama that was fourteen feet long, and weighed over 100 pounds.  There are surly other monsters like this lurking around in the southeastern United States.  The Eastern Diamondback is found as far north as North Carolina, and as far west as the Mississippi River.  The snake is usually not as long averaging from 3.5 to 5.5 feet long although in one study an average length of 5.6 feet was found.  According to the Guinness Book of Records as of 2009 the longest eastern diamondback on record was 7.6 feet.  it is estimated this snake had been living since the late 1980s making you wonder if more of them are around, what they have been eating. how many others are there around like them and where are their offsprings or kin.

These snakes habitat is dry upland grassy areas although at times they can be found on dry hammocks in coastal wetlands.  The author once encountered a whole hammock full of them in the Everglades.  The eastern diamondback is an excellent swimmer so they may be encountered in swamps, lakes and rivers.

Another view of the largest rattlesnake showing a clear view of its head.

You may be wondering why this was included in Gold Mining & Prospecting this is because its habitat includes parts of the eastern goldbelt that extends through the southeast from Maryland to Alabama.  This is the scene of the first Goldrush in the United States and because of recent exploration activity is becoming one of the hottest areas in North America for finding gold.  You wouldn’t want to meet one of these guys on a prospecting trip because they could completely ruin your day.  Even the little ones could, and there are at least three other poisonous snakes in the southeast United States, the Copperhead, the Coral Snake and the Cotton Mouth.  Look out!

Followup: Further research on this story reveals it isn't true.  Although the rattlesnake was a large specimen of its species what gave it its apparent size was because the photographer taking the pictures was closer to the snake then the sheriff was.  Even if it wasn't 15 feet long a diamondback rattlesnake is still the largest and most poisonous snake in North America and should be respected.

In a further followup with Molly Davis a spokesperson with the St. John's County, Florida Sheriffs Department although the snake wasn't 15 feet long is was however a giant specimen nonetheless of an Eastern Diamondback.  The snake hunter who wasn't allowed to keep live specimens killed the rattlesnake because of its proximity to a housing development.  It was in some shrubbery at the entrance to the development where the snake was found.

This was an extremely dangerous animal with any member of the rattlesnake demanding much respect. It should be remembered that the newly born members of the rattlesnake clan are the most poisonous.

1 comment:

  1. John, this is valuable information for anyone even contemplating prospecting in those areas. "Always be careful" takes on a whole new meaning where these poisonous snakes live.