Why do so many snakes have diamond patterns? The answer is simple: protection against predators. Many venomous snakes have diamond patterns. When would-be predators learned to avoid such patterns, other snakes evolved similar shapes to fool predators into thinking they’re venomous as well.
This article explores some of the many snakes with diamond patterns on their backs. We’ll take a look at their habitats, behavior, and diet. Keep reading to learn more!
13 Snakes with Diamond Patterns
Venomous Snakes with Diamond Patterns
1. Western Diamondback Rattlesnake
Scientific name: Crotalus atrox
This well-known rattlesnake is easy to recognize if you’re within its range. It lives in Texas, Oklahoma, and the Southwestern United States. Populations also live in southern California.
Identify a western diamondback by way of its black and white rattle, triangle-shaped head, and diamond patterning along its back. Unfortunately, the patterns might not be visible depending on how big the color difference is between the snake’s base color and the diamonds’ color. If you think it could be a rattlesnake, back off!
It eats small rodents like mice, as well as rabbits and ground-dwelling birds. It prefers dry areas and stays away from abundant water sources. They average between 3 and 4 feet long.
2. Eastern Diamondback Rattlesnake
Scientific name: Crotalus adamanteus
The diamond-shaped patches on the back of the eastern diamondback rattlesnake are some of the most well-defined diamonds of any snake. They are dark brown on a backdrop of light tan. Unlike its western cousin, its rattle is nondescript.
Further identify this snake thanks to its black mask with white edges. The black part of the mask goes over the eyes and the white edges are on its eyebrows and just above its nose.
They average about 4 feet long, but some species measure in at 7 feet. They live along the coasts in the Southeast. The entire state of Florida is a habitat for this snake.
3. Mexican West Coast Rattlesnake
Scientific name: Crotalus basiliscus
The Mexican west coast rattlesnakes are native to Mexico’s Pacific coast. They live in a small swath of coastal plain from Sonora to Michoacan.
Despite their small habitat area, they aren’t threatened at all. Habitat in this area is scrubby with mesquite, cacti, and bushes. Many of the plants have abundant thorns.
Even though it is venomous, it is easy going and not aggressive. Scientists know very little about its diet, but they have evidence that it eats small mammals and rodents.
They are lighter in color than other rattlesnakes. Most specimens are light tan to orangey-cream. There’s a characteristic light border around the edge of the diamonds that makes them easy to recognize.
4. Mojave Green Rattlesnake
Scientific name: Crotalus scutulatus
It’s the only green rattlesnake on earth! Mojave green rattlesnakes aren’t the same shade of green as tropical snakes, but they are greener than any other snake in their native desert environment.
Their scales are olive, dark green, or tan-green. The diamond pattern on its back is usually dark brown with white borders.
Its preferred environment is the deserts of the Southwest. Look for them hiding on scree slopes of the high deserts.
They adapt well to desert plants and regularly hang out where there is good visibility. Most specimens average 3 feet long.
5. Red Diamond Rattlesnake
Scientific name: Crotalus ruber
The Red diamond rattlesnake is the only red rattlesnake in the United States. Its diamond-shaped patches are dark reddish-brown, bordered by white around the spine. Its underside is light-colored.
Like the western diamondback, it has a black and white rattle that stands out against the desert sands. It lives in the extreme south of California near San Diego and the Mexican border.
They eat lizards, rabbits, and any small prey they can swallow. This rattlesnake reaches up to 4.5 feet long.
6. Southern pacific rattlesnake
Scientific name: Crotalus oreganus helleri
The Southern Pacific rattlesnake is a venomous pit viper found in southwestern California and south into Baja California, Mexico. These snakes have a distinctive diamond pattern on their skin, which helps them to blend in with their surroundings and avoid predators.
Southern Pacific rattlesnakes have a triangular head, vertical pupils, and a rattle at the end of their tail, which they use as a warning of potential threats. These snakes are primarily nocturnal and feed on small mammals, birds, and reptiles.
7. Aruba rattlesnake
Scientific name: Crotalus unicolor
The Aruba rattlesnake is a critically endangered species of rattlesnake that is endemic to the island of Aruba in the southern Caribbean. It is a relatively small species, with an average adult length of around 90 centimeters. The Aruba rattlesnake’s coloration is highly variable, ranging from light gray to dark brown, with a distinctive diamond-shaped pattern on its back.
Unlike many other rattlesnake species, the Aruba rattlesnake is primarily diurnal, meaning it is active during the day. It primarily feeds on lizards and small rodents and is known to be a docile and non-aggressive species. Unfortunately, due to habitat destruction and other threats, the Aruba rattlesnake is now listed as critically endangered.
8. South American rattlesnake
Scientific name: Crotalus durissus
The South American rattlesnake is a highly venomous pit viper species found in South America. It is the most widely distributed member of its genus, with seven subspecies recognized. The South American rattlesnake’s average length is around 1 meter, but some can grow up to 2 meters in length.
It has a distinctive diamond-shaped pattern on its back, which can vary in color from light brown to dark green. The South American rattlesnake is primarily nocturnal and feeds on small rodents, birds, and lizards. It is ovoviviparous, giving birth to 4-8 young.
9. Red-naped snake
Scientific name: Furina diadema
The red-naped snake is a small venomous snake species found in Australia. It has a distinctive diamond-shaped pattern on its back, with a bright red or orange patch on the back of its head. The red-naped snake’s average length is around 40 centimeters, and it is red-brown in color with a shiny black head and nape. It is a nocturnal species that feeds on small skinks and other lizards.
Non-Venomous Snakes with Diamond Patterns
10. Diamond-backed Water snake
Scientific name: Nerodia rhombifer
This non-venomous water snake doesn’t waste any time fooling possible predators. Baby snakes are born with minuscule diamond patterns on their scales. These water snakes are adept swimmers that can hold their breath.
Most of their diet is made up of catfish, which they catch by swimming underwater and nosing into hidden alcoves and crevices in bodies of water. They average between 30 and 60 inches long.
They live throughout the Southeast. Most of the population concentrates around the Mississippi River, but some snakes live in Mexico and others live as far away as Indiana.
Scientific name: Pituophis catenifer sayi
Bullsnakes are nonvenomous snakes that often have diamond-shaped blotches on their backs. They’ve evolved this kind of coloration to blend into their natural environments and to fool would be predators into thinking they are rattlesnakes.
Its rattlesnake imitation is pretty effective too. It hisses, presses its head flat so it looks more like a rattlesnake, and curves its body into an S-shape. Some even shake the ends of their tails back and forth to pretend like they have a rattle.
The bullsnake is normally very docile and nonaggressive. They grow to be up to 8 feet long. This allows them to eat all kinds of rats, mice, rabbits, and rodents. Some even eat gophers and prairie dogs.
They live in midwestern North America from central Canada south through the Great Plains into northern Mexico. Their coloration varies depending on the surrounding environment, although most are black, yellow, or brown.
12. California Lyresnake
Scientific name: Trimorphodon lyrophanes
California lyresnakes are native to the southwestern United States and parts of Baja California and Southern California. These scrub dwellers do have venom, but it’s not powerful enough to hurt humans. It’s about 2 to 3 feet long, but some snakes have measured in at 4 feet long.
Identify the California lyresnake by way of its light background color and bright orange or brown diamond-shaped patches along its back. Some naturalists describe them as more trapezoidal, but it depends on the snake.
This snake hunts and eats during the daytime. They’re adept at climbing rocky slopes and into caves and nooks where lizards, rodents, and birds hide. They’re secretive, so little is known about their courtship behaviors.
13. Diamond python
Scientific name: Morelia spilota spilota
Diamond python is a subspecies of carpet python found in coastal areas and adjacent ranges of southeastern Australia. It is a medium to large snake, with an average adult length of roughly 2 meters, but some subspecies can grow up to 3 meters in length.
The diamond python’s most notable feature is its striking diamond-shaped pattern, which is why it is named as such. They are non-venomous and oviparous, with females laying an average of 25 eggs in a clutch.
During the incubation period, the female will coil around the eggs and shiver to regulate their temperature, not leaving them to eat except for brief moments to bask in the sun. They are known to be docile and easy to handle, making them popular pets among snake enthusiasts.