Description: The eastern diamondback rattlesnake is the largest species of rattlesnake in the world and arguably the most dangerous snake native to the United States. They are very heavy-bodied pitvipers with a series of dark diamonds outlined in black running the length of their gray or yellowish backs. The diamonds on the tail tend to form into dark bands. Diamondbacks have two light lines running along the sides of their heads.
Feeding/diet: Diamondbacks are ambush predators. Adults will feed on rodents and rabbits.
Habitat/range: In North Carolina, diamondbacks are usually found in sandy pine flatwoods in the southeastern Coastal Plain. Unfortunately, due to habitat destruction and collecting and killing of adults, very few diamondback rattlesnakes survive in the state. Consequently, eastern diamondbacks are protected in North Carolina.
Reproduction: Eastern diamondbacks mate in August and September, and the females give birth the next fall to 7–21 babies that look like their parents. Female eastern diamondbacks probably reproduce only every 2–3 years.
Miscellaneous: The venom of the eastern diamondback is very destructive to tissues and, due to the snake’s large size, a bite results in a heavy injection of venom. Most of the time, diamondbacks rely on their excellent camouflage and try to remain undetected when a threat presents itself. Even if disturbed, most are very reluctant to bite and will typically try to escape first. If unable to escape, they will usually rattle loudly as a warning and, if necessary, will bite.