Menu

Scales and Tales

HOW BIG IS BIG? Facts from the World's Largest Reptile Zoo about Giant Snakes and Reptiles. — Part 1

We have a sign on the grounds—which can also be seen on our website—that lists various reptiles and how much we would pay for really large specimens. We've had many thousands of questions over the years about this sign. One of the reasons we've had so many questions about how large reptiles (especially giant snakes) can get is because their size may be the single most misunderstood thing about these already very misunderstood animals.

Western Diamondback Rattlesnake Western Diamondback Rattlesnake


Are Those Rewards For Real?

"Can they actually get as big as the ones on your reward sign?"

Yes, but each would be a world record for its species.

"Would you really pay that much?"

Yes.

"If you'll pay $25,000 for an eight foot rattlesnake, would you pay $12,500 for one four feet long?"

Sorry, no. How about 10 bucks?

Probably the most famous reward on our list is the one just mentioned that says we will pay $25,000 for an 8-foot rattlesnake. There are only 3 of the 100 or so varieties of rattlesnakes in the world that could even come close to growing to 8 feet - and none live around here. The 3 biggest rattlesnake species are: the Western Diamondback, the Eastern Diamondback, and the Mexican West Coast Rattlesnake. We get calls and visits every year from folks who see "8 footers" all the time and intend to bring us one.

Mexican West Coast Rattlesnake The Mexican West Coast Rattlesnake is also known as the Mexican Green Rattlesnake.


How Many Do You Want?

I remember receiving a call from a woman in North Carolina who wanted to confirm our rattlesnake reward. I assured her we would definitely pay her - with the usual stipulation that it must be delivered to us live and in good condition. Her concern, she told me, was not that we would pay or even that they would have to deliver it in good shape. But, she wanted to know, how many we would take at that price? She said she hated to send "the boys" out to catch five or six 8-foot rattlesnakes if we would only take one. I told her to have the boys catch the first one and we could negotiate from there on all the others they would find. I never heard from her again.Eastern Diamondback Rattlesnake

In fact, we never hear from any of those giant snake catchers again. I guess those darn "giant snakes" look so much bigger in our minds than they really are. Our reward sign has been posted for almost 60 years and we have yet to pay any of the rewards even though wehave upped the rewards numerous times over the years.

Our reward sign exists mostly to make a point as to how big reptiles really get, or more accurately, how big they really don't get.

We often hear stories about giant snakes in this area that were seen crossing the highway so long that they stretched all the way across the road from ditch to ditch. Sorry to burst your bubble but that's impossible, well, unless the road was only about 6 feet wide (or the snake was chopped in two). Maybe it was just moving really fast. The region's biggest snake is the Bullsnake with a record length of just 8 feet.

Bullsnake Bullsnake

Back

Close

Things To Do

Main Exhibits

Shows

Shops

Close

Animal Facts

Snakes

Non-Snakes

Native to South Dakota

Close

Botanical Gardens

Close

About Us

Privacy Policy