Eastern Diamond-backed Rattlesnake

Crotalus adamanteus (State Status: S3; vulnerable)


The largest rattlesnake native to the United States, the Eastern Diamond-backed Rattlesnake (EDB for short) ranges throughout the pine savanna belt in the southeast US, and may be encountered in the limited pine savanna habitats and adjacent land in Mississippi. This snake is large and often very thick with a series of dark brown or black diamonds along a brown, tan, or golden base color. Diamonds are generally outlined with lighter scales. These snakes require large territories and healthy sandhill habitats. They may also utilize gopher tortoise burrows, one of a handful of snake species that are known to do so (Behler & King, 1979). EDB’s eat mammals and birds. These snakes are under intense pressures of habitat loss and are declining in multiple parts of their range, including Mississippi. The best way to safely avoid conflict with venomous snakes is to learn the few species Mississippi has and to leave them alone. Bites most often occur in the event one attempts to kill a snake.

Adult EDB from high-quality pine savanna habitat, South Mississippi

Identifying Traits

  • Brown, tan, or golden in base color with a row of dark diamonds outlined by light scales.
  • Large head distinct from body. Head with light lines


Sandhills and pine savannas


Ambush predators of mammals and birds. May be seen utilizing stump holes or gopher tortoise burrows. Active at dusk


Rabbits, squirrels, rodents, birds

Adult with rattle visible, Stone Co. (MS)
Adult found crossing a road, Stone Co. (MS)
Yearling EDB, Stone Co. (MS)
Dorsal view of pattern, Stone Co. (MS)
EDB, George Co. (MS)