[**EDIT 10/05/2010 @ 3:30PM. This original story appears to be false. The snake in question appears to have been from Georgia. Click here for details.]
Apparently, this monster rattlesnake was found on Topsail Island and turned over to NC Wildlife officers. This picture is from Ben Fodor on facebook.
[EDIT]. Ok, just did some homework and judging from the photo, this appears to be an Eastern Diamondback which are found in Southeastern NC. Here is some info from Davidson College along with a habitat graph:
Description: The eastern diamondback rattlesnake is the largest species of rattlesnake in the world and arguably the most dangerous snake native to the United States. They are very heavy-bodied pitvipers with a series of dark diamonds outlined in black running the length of their gray or yellowish backs. The diamonds on the tail tend to form into dark bands. Diamondbacks have two light lines running along the sides of their heads.
Feeding/diet: Diamondbacks are ambush predators. Adults will feed on rodents and rabbits.
Habitat/range: In North Carolina, diamondbacks are usually found in sandy pine flatwoods in the southeastern Coastal Plain. Unfortunately, due to habitat destruction and collecting and killing of adults, very few diamondback rattlesnakes survive in the state. Consequently, eastern diamondbacks are protected in North Carolina.
Miscellaneous: The venom of the eastern diamondback is very destructive to tissues and, due to the snake’s large size, a bite results in a heavy injection of venom. Most of the time, diamondbacks rely on their excellent camouflage and try to remain undetected when a threat presents itself. Even if disturbed, most are very reluctant to bite and will typically try to escape first. If unable to escape, they will usually rattle loudly as a warning and, if necessary, will bite.
To read the complete description, please visit the Davidson page.
•It turns out NC leads the nation in snake bites:
"North Carolina has the highest frequency, with 19 bites per 100,000 persons. The national average is approximately 4 bites per 100,000 persons."
•Although the Eastern Rattlesnake is not federally protected, it is protected by the State of NC: