Eastern Diamondback Rattlesnake
At a record length of almost eight feet, this rattlesnake holds the distinction of being the largest and heaviest rattlesnake in the world. Populations of this snake have diminished drastically in the past twenty years due to habitat destruction and collection for the skin trade.
Eastern Diamondback Rattlesnakes occur in the palmetto flatwoods and pinelands of the southern United States from Mississippi to southern North Carolina.
The venom of the diamondback is potent. When severely bitten, the mortality rate for humans is nearly 40 percent. The symptoms of diamondback venom include pain, swelling, weakness, breathing difficulty, weak pulse, heart failure, shock, and sometimes convulsion. This is a snake that should be left alone and not molested.
Rattlesnakes shed their skin several times a year, gaining one new rattle segment with each shed. There is no correlation between the number of rattles and the age of the snake (unless the snake only shed once a year). Also, as the rattle grows, the terminal rattles tend to become brittle and can break off when the snake is crawling through the underbrush.
There are two individuals currently on display at Knoxville Zoo.