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Pygmy Rattlesnake

Pygmy Rattlesnake

08.08.2007 - Ah, the Pygmy Rattlesnake - one of central Florida's four species of venomous snake.  It's supposedly the most common of the four, but I never find them.  I see more Cottonmouths, and I've even caught a few Eastern Diamondbacks and Coral Snakes.  This snake is actually the Dusky Pygmy Rattlesnake, Sistrurus miliarius barbouri.

There's a few different species of Pygmies, and they live in the SE United States. I cannot determine if the proper spelling is Pigmy Rattlesnake or Pygmy, but both spellings are used for the snake. Some people misspell this snake as Pygmie Rattlesnake. It's often called a "Ground Rattler", or "Little Bastard Rattler".

This snake, as its name implies, is very small. It rarely grows above 18 inches. It's got a teensy tiny little rattle on the tip of its tail, and most people wouldn't even be able to hear it. The younger snakes, such as the one seen above, have yellow-tipped tails. Some people liken the rattle to the faint buzz of an insect. This snake apparently has a nasty disposition, and won't hesitate to strike.

Though the snake is too small to produce enough venom to kill a person, the bite is extremely painful. A young man once called me to ask for a job (I get about 50 such calls per year, even though I have no job to offer), and we talked snakes for a little while. He said that he was once collecting Pygmy Rattlers, when one bit him in the finger. "What did you do?" I asked him. "I went home and got drunk", he replied, "and then four hours later I was in the hospital, bawling like a little baby". He said that the pain was unbelievable, the worst pain of his life, and that he lost the finger due to dissolved tissue. So this snake, like all venomous snakes, should not be treated carelessly! It's more likely to strike than the larger rattlesnakes.

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