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Great American Outdoors


Florida’s Most Venomous Snake…The Eastern Diamondback Rattlesnake

Here is one of Florida’s most venomous snakes- the eastern diamondback rattlesnake. The eastern diamondback rattlesnakes is also Florida’s largest venomous snake, it’s bite can be fatal to humans but urbanization has decimated the population so much that this snake is rarely encountered by humans today. This rattlesnake feed mostly on small mammals, birds and other reptiles including alligator hatchlings.

They kill their prey with a venomous bite. All rattlesnakes possess a set of fangs with which they inject large quantities of hemotoxic venom. The venom travels through the bloodstream, destroying victim’s tissue and causing swelling, internal bleeding, and intense pain. This pit vipers are primarily active at night, but they bask in the sun during the day. The threat of envenomation, advertised with the shaking of the rattle, deters many predators. However, rattlesnakes fall prey to other predators such as hawks, weasels, king snakes, indigo snakes and many other species, including larger alligators.

Now, regarding alligators being ‘immune’ to a rattlesnakes bite, that is not necessarily true. Alligators are not immune to snake poison. However, they do have extremely tough skin, and an armored back protected by bony plates called scutes. It is possible that this protection may prevent a snake’s fangs from penetrating the skin. The alligator is an amazing reptile, having survived almost unchanged since the time of the dinosaurs. Having been hunted almost to the brink of extinction, this reptile has made an amazing comeback in recent years, inhabiting almost every body of water in Florida.

The alligator is a very important part of our wildlife heritage, and plays an extremely important part in Florida’s ecosystem. During the dry season, alligators create “gator holes” which may be the only source of water around. This provides sustenance not only to the wildlife of the area, but to the alligator as well. Alligators also feed upon the “trash fish” such as gars, which are natural predators of young game fish like bass. The alligator is now considered to be a renewable resource, and is an important part in Florida’s growing aquaculture industry.



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