The Giant Florida Rattlesnake

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"This Is NOT a Python!"

Netlore Archive: Viral images purport to show a 15-foot-long, 170-pound eastern diamondback rattlesnake caught in a subdivision near Jacksonville, Florida.. Photo attributed to Jason Huntley / Circulating via email

Description: Viral images
Circulating since: Dec. 2009
Status: Text is inaccurate
Analysis: See last page

Text example:
Email contributed by Charles S., October 12, 2010:

Fwd: This is NOT a python!

Guess what was found just south of Jacksonville....

This is a 15 foot Eastern Diamondback rattlesnake - the largest ever caught on record, in fact. This snake was found Near the St. Augustine outlet, in a new KB homes subdivision just south of Jacksonville FL.

A little research revealed the following:
One bite from a snake of this size would contain enough venom to kill over 40 full grown men. The head of this snake alone is larger than the hand of a normal sized man. A bite from those fangs would comparable to being stabbed by two curved, 1/4 inch diameter screwdrivers.

The knife being used to draw out the fangs for the bottom picture has a blade around 4 inches long. This snake is estimated to have weighed over 170 pounds. (How much do you weigh?) Notice the girth of this snake as compared to the cop?s leg in the first picture (and he is not a small man).

A snake of this size could easily swallow a 2 year-old child (and dogs, pigs, etc). A snake this size has an approximately 5 1/2 foot accurate striking distance. (The distance for an average size rattlesnake is about 2 feet.)

This snake has probably been alive since George Bush Sr. was President.

Now just ask yourself these questions: What has this snake been feeding on and where are its offspring?

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Image #2

Image attributed to Jason Huntley / Circulating via email
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Image #3

Image attributed to Jason Huntley / Circulating via email
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The photos are authentic and do, in fact, depict an eastern diamondback rattlesnake caught and killed by an animal trapper in a St. Augustine, Florida suburb in September 2009. It was a big one. A spokesperson for the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission called it "a formidable rattlesnake."

Most everything else in the forwarded text is fictitious, however.

Eastern diamondbacks (Crotalus adamanteus), which are found mostly in Florida and southern Georgia, average around 3 to 6 feet in length. The largest ever documented was 8 feet long. According to news accounts, the specimen pictured on the preceding pages measured a total of 7-feet-3-inches from head to tail — which is impressive, but still short of record size, and way short of the 15 feet claimed. Confusing matters further, its apparent length and girth are exaggerated by forced perspective in the photos, in which the rattler is much closer to the camera than the human being standing nearby.

Don't get me wrong. Herpetologists confirm that the eastern diamondback is the largest of the 32 known species of rattlesnake. It's just not that big.

Could the snake have weighed 170 pounds, as claimed? Nope. Again, relying on the experts, your average 6-foot-long adult eastern diamondback tops out at around 10 pounds. Even if this specimen measured 15 feet long (over twice the size it's supposed to be), it wouldn't weigh 170 pounds, or even 70.

Someone down in Florida (or wherever this tall tale was conceived) is blessed with a vivid imagination.

Sources and further reading:

Rattler Found at Tuscany
St. Augustine Record, 30 September 2009

7-Foot-3 Rattlesnake Caught, Killed, 30 September 2009

Huge Rattlesnake Found Near St. Augustine
Florida Times-Union, 1 October 2009

Eastern Diamondback Rattlesnake (Crotalus adamanteus)
Florida Museum of Natural History

Last updated 08/01/15