September 21st 2012
Have you ever walked out to your back yard to see a rattlesnake sunning itself, only to kill it because you thought it dangerous? The diamondback rattlesnake is a fearsome pit viper with sharp fangs and powerful venom. Both the Western and Eastern diamondback pose serious threats to human life, with the Eastern diamondback being the most dangerous snake found in North America. While most people that receive a diamondback bite will live to tell the tale, snakes are still responsible for around 10 deaths per year in the United States. Knowing the symptoms of a diamondback bite will help you with treatment and care. I have worked with and studied these fascinating creatures for many years now. They are two of the most diverse venomous reptiles that we have in the United States. Both of these reptiles are widely used in venom extraction programs around the world. Eastern and Western diamondback rattlesnakes have many similarities and differences related to habitat, behavior and venom composition.
The habitat of the eastern diamondback rattlesnake is slowly but steadily on the decline. People need places to live and build further into their habitat every year. These reptiles like the humid swamps of the everglades and coastal region of the southeast. The eastern diamondback has started seeking new habitat on the northern most islands of the Florida Keys. How do they get there, they swim. The more people encroach on their habitat the more of these reptiles get pushed out. As a result of this, the population of the animals is also on the decline. Some areas host “rattlesnake roundups” where large numbers of these snakes are caught and slaughtered. Despite the disappearance of the diamondback rattlesnakes, there are no laws protecting them. Since 1996, over 200,000 pounds of rattlesnakes have been killed through these roundups. The range of the eastern diamondback extends from South Carolina down into...