Finds rattlesnake in yard

Published 12:00 am Friday, August 9, 2002

When Jason Fowler pulled into his father's driveway near Wiggins Crossroad Wednesday, he wasn't thinking about hunting. Within minutes, he realized he had little choice – a rattlesnake almost as long as Jason is tall was coiled in his father's front yard.

After he shot the snake with a .22, he noticed that it was female, and had given birth


"I just want people to know, so they can keep an eye out for the babies," said Fowler. He added that there are several children in that neighborhood who often play outside.

How much do people really know about rattlesnakes? Does the average person know enough to keep from being bitten and

what to do if he is bitten?

The eastern diamondback rattlesnake, one of the largest of all venomous snakes native to this area, can grow up to eight feet and weigh up to 35 pounds. The specimen Fowler killed was 5 1/2 feet long with 13 rattles and one button.

The fangs of these local rattlesnakes can measure up to one inch in the larger sizes.

Snakes are cold-blooded creatures, their body temperatures do not stay the same throughout the day. Because of the temperature, snakes prefer to stay underground during extreme cold or heat.

The eastern diamondback usually resides in old animal burrows or other abandoned holes in the ground. It can be found out in the open among longleaf pines and mostly dry areas, although the snake can swim and has been found near bodies of water. The normal food choices of this rattlesnake are rabbits, squirrels and cotton rats.

The eastern diamondback is a biennial breed. This means that they mate one year and give birth the next. They bear their young every other year. In August, the female rattlesnake slows its movements and waits for the male to find her. Male snakes follow the sent trails laid by females that are ready to mate. Female eastern diamondbacks that are pregnant slow down at this time as well. From July to October they give birth to live young and can have up to twenty at a time.

The young can be far more dangerous than their parents. Most the time, an adult rattlesnake will not inject venom after it bites, but the younger ones almost always do. The people that are most vulnerable to the venom are small children and elderly people. If bitten, call 911 and get to a hospital as soon as possible.