Saturday, July 6, 2013

A 24-foot Rattlesnake from Bladen County, North Carolina?

    I have to apologize for being behind the ball on this one. About a month ago two commenters on my giant rattlesnake megapost  brought my attention (here and hereto a new giant rattlesnake picture that was doing the rounds on Facebook.

GM FB fam...Welcome 2 Bladen Co. N.C. This is not a Python nor a Boa this is a 24ft Rattlesnake...Holy $h*t!!

    There are so many things wrong with this it is hard to know where to start.

   1) Rattlesnakes do not get 24 feet long. No rattlesnake of any species that has ever been measured has been that big. In fact, you'd be hard pressed to find reliable evidence of rattlesnakes over eight feet long (although a handful have been recorded). Once you start talking about rattlesnakes over nine feet long you might as well be talking about Bigfoot or the Loch Ness Monster.

  2) That's not a rattlesnake. Based on the color and body shape and patterning it is definitely a python; I believe it is a Reticulated Python (Python reticulatus; please correct me below if you disagree). This species can be found in southeast Asia, not southeast North Carolina. You may be reminded of this post from a few years ago in which another python is hoisted up by some construction equipment and claimed to be a 55 foot boa.

  3) This snake is unlikely to be 24 feet long. It is a lot closer to the camera than the back-hoe so our perception of size is skewed. My guess is the snake is 10-12 feet long. Still a big snake.

   4) Bladen County, North Carolina isn't exactly ground-zero for giant rattlesnakes. The world's largest species of rattlesnake (up to about eight feet long), the Eastern Diamond-back Rattlesnake (Crotalus adamanteus), is known from North Carolina (see range map); historically they occurred in the coastal regions. But, today they are extremely rare and most (all?) of the snakes that are left in the state are on Camp Lejeune, the Marine base. Timber Rattlesnakes (Crotalus horridus), however, can be found throughout most of North Carolina, except perhaps the central region. And, this species very rarely exceed six feet in length.

Conclusion: the story about this photograph is very bogus.

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