Rattlers   Robert Leverett
  Jan 04, 2007 05:33 PST 


   I miss the sight of Spanish Moss,
southern magnolias, live oaks, crape myrtle, loblollies, sweetgums,
dogwood, redbud, and at least the possibility of seeing an alligator
somewhere. I'll pass over seeing an eastern diamondback or cottonmouth.
Been there done that. People here in the Northeast cannot imagine how
large eastern diamondbacks can get, at least on occasion. What's the
largest diamond back that you've seen? I bet our buddy Will Fell over in
Georgia has come across some real beauts. Will, what's the record?

RE: Live Oaks - back to Larry   tuce-@msn.com
  Jan 04, 2007 12:07 PST 

Bob,   I've seen a few 4 foot easterns and 4'timber rattler's, but have
talked to others who have seen easterns 7 to 8', thats big. I've seen
photos of 7 footers. I mostly encounter 4' copperheads and 4'
cottonmouths. I'm mostly in the hardwoods and Eastern Diamondbacks seem
to like the piney woods best. The next one I see I'll send you a photo!
Rattlers   Willard Fell
  Jan 04, 2007 13:57 PST 

Not sure what the record is, but like fish and gators there have been many exaggerated claims as to size, I guess we can add trees to that also. My guess the record would be in the seven, maybe eight foot range for diamondbacks. What really surprises folks is how big around they are rather than their length. I can't think of another snake that is any stouter. Unfortunately they have a bad rap and many folks ruthlessly kill or harm any snake they see. While Cottonmouths can be somewhat aggressive, you just about have to step on a diamondback or canebrake to make it strike. I can't tell the number of times I have stopped to do something in the woods only to look down and see a healthy rattler coiled under a palmetto bush within a few feet of my legs. None have ever struck, but I will admit they have probably taken a few years off my heart. The diamondback used to be quite common in the woods, but the numbers are dwindling and it is rather uncommon to see one now days. The Canebrakes are still out there. The Pygmy Rattlers have always been rather uncommon in SE Georgia. I know some of the touchy feely folks will probably cringe and in hindsight it probably didn't do the snake any good, but years ago when I was much younger, on a couple of occasions I would give any rattlers I saw a good dose of blue paint on their backs so I could keep up with them while I marking a stand of timber.

Re: Rattlers   doug bidlack
  Jan 04, 2007 23:35 PST 

Bob and Will,

The record eastern diamondback is listed as 8' 0" in
Conant and Collins 'Reptiles and Amphibians of Eastern
and Central North America'. Klauber, in his
'Rattlesnakes: Their Habits, Life Histories, and
Influence on Mankind', wrote that "The eastern
diamondback (Crotalus adamanteus) is the largest of
the rattlesnakes. Specimens exceeding seven feet in
length are well authenticated, although I cannot claim
to have measured one myself; and eight and nine-foot
snakes have been reported, possibly with some basis in
truth. Reviewing all the reports and statistics
concerning the maximum size obtained by this snake, I
should guess that, while the average adult male
measures five feet, very rarely the eastern
diamondback does measure eight feet, give or take an
inch or so."

Klauber goes on to say that "By the length-weight
relationship (useful only for rattlers in the wild) a
seven-foot rattler would weigh about fifteen pounds,
and an eight-footer about twenty-three pounds. The
heaviest rattler of which I have heard was a seven
foot five inch western diamond said to have weighed
twenty-four pounds. Rattlesnakes, while by no means
the longest venomous snakes - the king cobra,
attaining a length of at least eighteen feet, holds
this distinction - probably attain a greater weight
than any venomous snake, although no doubt closely
approached by some of the thick-bodied vipers of

RE: Rattlers   James Smith
  Jan 05, 2007 17:54 PST 

I've seen lots of copperheads. A couple of cottonmouths. And a number of
rattlesnakes. The biggest rattlesnake I've ever seen was at 4,200 feet
on a heath bald in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park on my way to
the Laurel Gap shelter. My pals and I were following a very large brown
snake as it crawled past us. We got on our hands and knees to watch it
go from a patch of sunlight into the rhododendron. It bagan to crawl
over what we at first thought was a rock. And then we realized that the
brown snake (it was a big snake itself--about four feet long) was
crawling over a coiled rattlesnake. Fortunately for us, the rattler was
deep in the shade of the rhododendron and it was still fairly early in
the morning and he had only enough energy to taste the air with his
tongue. The irony of encountering this snake was that the trail
guidebook we were using stated clearly that this spot marked the upper
limits of all venomous snakes in this part of the Smokies. We figured
the snake had missed that paragraph.

I was bushwhacking to the top of Cold Mountain in the Panthertown Valley
a couple of years ago and had to cut the attempt short when I heard some
rattlers in the undergrowth ahead of me. I just backed out and retraced
my steps.

The most rattlers I've ever seen in one place were on Mount Palomar in
California. They were everywhere.

I never bother snakes. Almost stepped on a copperhead on the Moores Wall
Trail in Hanging Rock State Park. Closest I've come to being bitten,
that I know of.
FW: Rattlers PAINTING CRITTERS   Will Blozan
  Jan 06, 2007 16:02 PST 
Will F,

I find your "marking" of the rattlers very similar to an experience I had in
Suriname, SA. I was working in Brownsberg Nature Park doing trailwork and
signage for an arboretum. These exceedingly feisty biting flies (like a deer
fly) were a little too pesky, and wondered how many were "new" and how many
may be the same flies from day to day. Well, since I was painting with this
super-bright, god-awful yellow paint I decided to "mark" them with a dab on
their backs. I probably marked a few dozen, and sure enough, the little
painted buggers returned up to three days later.

Will B.
Re: Rattlers PAINTING CRITTERS   foresto-@npgcable.com
  Jan 06, 2007 23:08 PST 

While I've never painted snakes, I saw a fair number of them in my
timber marking days in Southeastern Kentucky, usually at close range
(vegetation was so dense, seldom saw ground)...my local co-workers
could smell them, but I was never able to anticipate them...I recall
one rattlesnake in particular, that was to the delight of my
co-workers, who promptly captured it with intentions of selling it to
a local snake-handling evangelist. It had evidently just molted, as
it was the brightest, cleanest yellow and white rattlesnake you ever
Regarding diamondbacks, years ago in the bottom end of the Sierra
Nevada range in California, I was working as a surveyor, subdividing
sections of land. We had parked our survey rig in the shade of a large
oak (mediterranean-like grassy foothills with large oaks
interspersed), gone off that morning and returned in the early
afternoon (late May, probably 100 degrees, at about 4000' in
elevation)...as I approached the work truck in the shade, I stepped
over what I thought was a large oak branch, only to realize in
mid-step that I was stepping over a large rattler...my co-workers said
I managed a six foot leap/step, alerting them to danger ahead...while
I'm not a killer of snakes unless it's them or me, my co-worker
quickly dispatched the rattler with 22 caliber bird shot. This by
size must have been a Western Diamondback, as sans head and tail
(quickly removed) was 72", and required a 7 foot 1" x 12" plank to
mount (and then took almost all of the planks width at the thickest
As a young man, having not killed or skinned animals, my memories are
life-long...my coworker was eager to skin the rattler for his meat
(later barbecued), and had me hold onto one end, while he using pliers
pulled the skin down to the other end...the rattler, being all central
nervous system, writhed in a very discomfiting manner.

Rattlers and Cobras   Robert Leverett
  Jan 08, 2007 05:34 PST 


   Thanks for the citations. These big snakes are a subject of
fascination for me. I saw my share of cobras in Southeast Asia and the
Philippines. Tawian has a smaller cobra that I encountered on three
occasions. It rarely exceeds 6 feet in length. Will Fell's point about
exaggerations of sizes and lengths of big snakes has its analogue in
trees - as we Ents so well know.

RE: Rattlers PAINTING CRITTERS   Willard Fell
  Jan 09, 2007 05:17 PST 


I can sympathize with that. Folks often ask worrying about rattlebugs in
the woods. My stock answer was I worry more about yellow (deer) flies
and yellow jackets. And yes you can smell a rattler if you're downwind.
They have a fairly strong musky odor, but usually if it is still you
smell them but never see them.
RE: Rattlers   tuce-@msn.com
  Jan 16, 2007 05:59 PST 

Doug,Willard,Bob,ENTS-    I have 10 acres of property in South Ms.,
about 35 miles inland, a Community called Big Level. About a mile from
here is an old time country store. Everyone around this area comes here
for coffee, and some grocery items. The owner of the store has a picture
of an Eastern Diamondback killed in Ala., in 1979. It measures 9'4" long
and weighs a whopping 106 lbs., must be one of the largest Diamondbacks
on record! While there this weekend cutting downed Oaks, due to
Hurricane Katrina, I thought about the rattlesnake postings. I think
ENTS would find this interesting. I've looked at this photo for years.
Ed, I send the photo I took of the picture, would you post it on the
web? Larry     

9_4rattler.jpg (53787 bytes) Rattler photo sent by Larry Tucei - 9' 4" reported

RE: Rattlers   Willard Fell
  Jan 16, 2007 06:34 PST 

It wasn't this one that passed around the internet several years ago.
Seems it was tagged Alabama when I first heard it.


Here is another one that made the rounds;


Re: Rattlers   lwin-@hampshire.edu
  Jan 16, 2007 07:03 PST 

OK, reality check time.

Unless these rattlers have been eating a LOT of lead, they surely can't
weigh 100 lb!

Assuming the same density as water (a pint's a pound the world around,
or 1 cc = 1 gm)

a 3 inch diameter snake 9 feet long is 26 pints worth! way too large an
average diameter and snakes float (less dense than water)

a 2 inch diameter 9 footer is worth 11.7 pints.

so unless the snake averages 6 inches in diameter, my guess is that
weights in the 10 pound range, even at a rather terrifying length, are
more likely correct.

Perhaps we should argue for using the time-tested ENTS method on
vertically-held snakes for length.....

Larry Winship
Professor of Botany, Hampshire College
RE: Rattlers ???   Will Blozan
  Jan 16, 2007 07:40 PST 

Like that dude could hold 97 pounds like that!!!


RE: Rattlers   tuce-@msn.com
  Jan 16, 2007 09:11 PST 

Will, No this photo came from a farmer in Big Level and the snake is
not set forward. Larry
RE: Rattlers    foresto-@npgcable.com
   Jan 16, 2007 18:06 PST 

If the old rule of thumb that a rattlesnake can only strike a distance
approximating half it's length is accurate, 4.5 feet is chest high on
most of us!
That aside, the webpage's admonition that you kill them automatically
doesn't do anything for the webpage's credibility, at least in my book.
Re: Rattlers   foresto-@npgcable.com
  Jan 16, 2007 19:28 PST 

I agree, not everybody has the self-restraint of ENTS measurers, when
it comes to accumulating record maximas!
I would think that snakes are snakes, and that a means of
approximating parity in rattlesnake measure, would be to establish
pythons as a standard...while many internet sites will cite
unsubstantiable boa maxima (37 foot, 300 pounds), the following quote
from www.crocodilehunter.com an existing python at the Australian zoo:

"Lily is by far the largest snake here at Australia Zoo, at a length
23ft or a touch over 7 meters and an estimated to weight of about
150kg. She is huge! In fact Reticulated Pythons are one of only two
types of snakes in the world that are regarded to have the capability
to eat people. At the young age of 27 she has many years ahead of her
yet, as these snakes may live up to and over 50 years. So hopefully
with another 20+ years Lily may be up close with what is the maximum
length. These snakes have been known to reach 30+ feet or 10 meters.
So if you are in and around the Zoo make sure you donít miss our
beautiful big girl Lily."

150 kgs should be a little under 330 pounds if my mental math
(2.2x150) is working this morning. The boas and pythons are
constrictors, and presumably have more muscle mass than a rattlesnake.
It's likely that rattlesnakes would need to be factored down...

RE: Rattlers   Willard Fell
  Jan 17, 2007 04:42 PST 


The web page is debunking the claims made in regards to the snake. If
you read it carefully you will see the post/email that was making the
rounds was highlighted in the green shaded box. It was the email, not
the website that advocated killing the snakes. Read the rest and you
will see that the website is questioning the veracity of the email and
the claims made regarding the snake.
RE: Rattlers   foresto-@npgcable.com
  Jan 17, 2007 17:30 PST 

That's correct, I came to that upon re-reading it later...trick of the
camera, probably a wide angle lens, closer to the snake than the