Thursday, July 30, 2009

Red Diamond Rattlesnake

The Red Diamond Rattlesnake is only found in a small part of Southern California and then down through the Baja Peninsula of Mexico. They are closely related to the Western Diamondback Rattlesnake and have the same distinctive "coontail" (black and white stripes on the tail before the rattle) and diamond markings, but have a reddish color and don't get quite as long. They also are much less aggressive than the Western Diamondback Rattlesnake. The biggest rattlesnake I've seen in the wild was an approximate five and a half foot Red Diamond behind our home in Live Oak Canyon. I found it early one morning on a walk. I killed it and brought it home to skin and eat. Note the 13 rattles below.

It was big enough that it was quite meaty. We baked it in the oven, covered in foil at 350 degrees for an hour, then for 10 minutes uncovered.

On March 31, 1993, Judy was out of town and I took Rachael, Sam and Andrew out to Whitewater Canyon snake hunting. We found a small Red Diamond near the top of the canyon. We brought it home for the weekend and Rachael named it "White Fang" after a Walt Disney movie that was out at the time. White Fang was a fun addition to our kitchen for a few days until Judy got home and then we returned him to Whitewater Canyon Monday evening for Family Home Evening.

In July 1994, our friend, Mark Richey, found a Red Diamond near his mailbox. I went over and collected it, took a few pictures, and let it go in Live Oak Canyon.

I found the Red Diamond below in the middle of South Lane near our home one evening while I was driving home. I sent Judy home for a bucket and broom and caught and released it in Live Oak Canyon.

We have had other Red Diamonds locally, including one in our neighbors yard which we caught and released in the canyon. My friend, Jim Sullivan, and I caught a Red Diamond near the top of Whitewater Canyon in May 2005 and I have had it as a pet since (it lives in the garage). Red, as he is effectionately called, shed his skin today. Each time he sheds he adds a new rattle. This picture was taken today.

Red is now over 3 1/2 feet long and eats a large rat about every two or three weeks. I took pictures of him eating a rat several months ago. The blood you see in the pictures is from the rat which I killed before putting in the terrarium. The snake always starts with the head.

Then their jaws have to open up to allow them to stretch wide enough to get around the large rat body.

It takes a good 20 minutes or longer for Red to eat a large rat and while he does he is quite vulnerable.

Note that the skin stretches so much that it loses most of its color.

By eating head first, the legs lie flat against the body while it is being swallowed.

The rat has all but disappeared, except for the tail.

The bulk of the body starts to migrate down the length of the snake.

The head has almost returned to normal.

This picture was taken a day or two later. The bulge of the rat is clearly visible in his body.


  1. Bulging around the middle--hmmm, that seems to be a theme around here.

  2. Good question. Earlier in my life, I killed and ate several rattlesnakes as a novelty. As I have gained an appreciation for them and the great benefit they provide, I have actually rescued quite a few from peoples yards that otherwise would have been killed and I have let them go elsewhere. I have not killed any rattlesnakes in many years.