Fact Check

15-Foot Eastern Diamondback Rattlesnake

Rumor: Photographs show a 15-foot diamondback rattlesnake captured in Florida.

Published Jul 8, 2010

Claim:   Photographs show a 15-foot diamondback rattlesnake captured in Florida.


Example:   [Collected via e-mail, December 2009]

15 ft. Eastern Diamondback rattlesnake caught yesterday at the St. Augustine Outlet biggest ever caught on record.

What a monster! I made a call to the St. John's County Sheriff’s office and the lady who answered the phone said it is real and happened about two months ago which would put it in September or October, 2009. I have heard of Eastern Diamond Backs being killed that were in excess of 8 feet long which is huge but this is almost twice that size. Makes you want to not go outside without a powerful flashlight at night.

Click to enlarge

Click to enlarge

Click to enlarge


Variations:   Variant versions place the capture of the snake shown above in Canton, Texas, or "just south of Cape Town."

Origins:   The photographs displayed above do show an eastern diamondback rattlesnake which was captured in the St. Augustine, Florida, area in September 2009. However, as is common with Internet-circulated pictures of snakes, the size of the serpent has been greatly exaggerated in the accompanying text.

Eastern diamondback rattlers average about 5.5 feet in length, and the very largest specimens of the species might approach 8 feet, so a 15-foot eastern diamondback would be a truly extraordinary (and unbelievable) occurrence. In fact, the apparent size of this rattler has been exaggerated in the photographs due to forced perspective (i.e., the snake is much closer to the camera lens than other objects in the frame), and the diamondback measured only 7 feet, 3 inches — less than half the length claimed above:

A venomous snake over seven feet long was discovered in a neighborhood over the weekend.

It was an eastern diamondback rattlesnake that measured 7 feet, 3 inches in length. According to the University of Florida, the record size for that type of snake is 8 feet, so this was definitely a large snake.

Homeowner Howard McGaffney saw the snake on the perimeter of his neighborhood, Tuscany Village, near State Road 16 and Interstate 95.

Someone called the sheriff's office and A1 Trapper Man, a local wildlife trapper, to deal with it.

Last updated:   5 July 2015


    First Coast News.   "Giant Rattlesnake Found in Neighborhood."

    30 September 2009.

David Mikkelson founded the site now known as snopes.com back in 1994.

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