A study was conducted in Loma Linda from 2008 to 2011 to compare the effect of translocation distance on movement and survival of red diamond rattlesnakes (Corbit and Hayes 2022). Thirty adult snakes were translocated: one third were moved a long distance (716 to 6000 m) and two thirds were moved a short distance (less than 716 m). Each snake was implanted with a radio transmitter in order to track its movement during the study.
Snakes subjected to a long-distance translocation (LDT) had an effective home range up to 4.6 times larger than those subjected to a short-distance translocation (SDT), and travelled nearly twice as much per day than SDT snakes. However, one year after translocation there was no significant difference between the two groups of snakes, indicating that it took around one year before LDT snakes established normal home ranges in their new territories.
Relocated individuals demonstrated remarkable homing behavior, often returning to their original capture sites despite being released up to hundreds of metres away. However, LDT snakes were less likely to return to human-dominated areas, and the rate of return to capture sites decreased as the translocation distance increased.
There was no significant difference found in mortality between LDT and SDT snakes in this study, however, this result is not universal for all snake translocations. A similar study conducted in Perth, Australia (see Urban Vipers 6: Dugites in Perth Australia) found that LDT snakes had a mortality rate of 100%, while SDT individuals had a mortality rate of only 50%. Also, snakes living in colder climates develop strong ties to their overwintering sites, and if moved too far, their ability to survive the winter will be compromised. This discrepancy in snake survival highlights the need for species-specific (and possibly even population-specific) research before conducting large-scale mitigation translocations.