Scientific Name: Crotalus adamanteus
The rattlesnake's rattle forms as the snake sheds its skin. These horny pieces are loosely joined together thus producing the rattle sound when the snake shakes it. It is designed solely as a defensive alarm to warn off predators or other threats before they come too close.
This is one of the largest species of rattlesnake. The large, coarse scales give the snake a rough appearance. The general colour is dark brown with black diamond-shaped markings edged in white along the back. The eyes are set in a black marking which is like a 'Lone Ranger' mask. Specimens up to 2.4 metres have been recorded and these are impressive snakes because of their immense body bulk.
Eastern diamondbacks are restricted to the southeastern corner of the USA. They often take over abandoned burrows of other animals, coming out in the morning to bask in the sun and lie in ambush for passing prey.
Most of their diet is comprised of rabbits and rats. These animals are bitten and immediately released. The snake then uses its heat sensing organs and its remarkable sense of smell to follow the prey's trail to where it has died. The venom is very toxic and fast acting so the prey doesn't usually travel too far before succumbing to its effects.
Up to 20 live young are produced in late summer. These are fully equipped with active venom glands and are able to catch and kill prey almost immediately after birth.