The Eastern Diamondback Rattlesnake is a large pit viper which averages between three and five feet. Records of an 8 foot specimen do exist. Average weight of an Eastern Diamondback Rattlesnake is five to ten pounds. They are the largest venomous snake in North America and the largest rattlesnake in the world.
The background color is usually brownish but may vary from silvery gray to dark black. A row of diamond shaped markings with brown centers outlined in yellow, cream or white spans the body from the neck to the vent. The tail is lightly stiped with brown and yellow or cream.
The head of the Eastern Diamondback Rattlesnake is wide and very distinct from the neck. Nostrils connect to the respiratory system and are located on the front of the rostrum. A pair of heat sensing pits are located between the nostrils and the eye. The eye has a vertical elliptical pupil centered in a black iris.
The upper jaw is equipped with two fangs used to hypodermically inject venom. The fangs fold back when not in use. The fangs are covered by a protective membrane. A row of smaller teeth used for swallowing prey is located on each upper jaw bone. Venom ducts connect the fang to venom glands located in the head, above and behind each eye. Each fang is covered by a sheathlike membrane to protect the fang when not in use. The fangs are loosely hinged and independently moveable.
The tongue is bifurcated and used to pick up airborne particles which are then transferred to the Jacobson's organ in the upper jaw. The Jacobson's organ is part of the olfactory system and used to analyze those particles.
The body is covered with lightly keeled scales on the dorsal surface and a single row of scutes on the ventral surface.
Females have 20-25 subcaudal scutes between the vent and the tail tip. Males have 26+ subcaudal scutes between the vent and the tail tip.
The tail is tipped by a series of modified interlocking scales that are used to produce a warning sound.
Click on FRED the albino eastern diamondback rattlesnake for the next page in the site tour. :-)