Don't care how doctored that photo may be, the snake is around 9 years old based on rattles...that's an old snake and not one I want to mess with!
I have seen pics taken from before the photoshop days (think black and white polaroid) of a rattler draped over a huge black dude and it is every bit bigger than that snake pictured here. Not saying it is common place to see something that big, but they do exist. rattlers and me don't get along very well. I only like to see them on the internet or behind glass walls.
I remember seeing that photo as well. The best I can remember is the snake in the photo is an Eastern Diamond Back, the largest rattlesnake species in North America. I think the man was a logger from Alabama or Georgia. It was a freaking huge snake!
Actually the snake (other than being obviously thick/mature) is nowhere near the size claimed.
Any photographer worth his salt....knows about "Forced Perspective"
. The Snake appears MUCH larger than it is because it is being held closer to the camera than the subject holding it. It is in a different focal plane.
Please see this: http://www.hongkiat.com/blog/force-perspective-photos/
We could just as easily make the snake look as if it would fit in the palm of the Man's hand, had he pointed the snake the other direction (farther away from himself).
The ONLY way (photographically) to accurately represent the size of the snake (relative to the man) is for them to both be at the same focal plane (distance).
I continue to be amazed at how many people are not aware of this and fall for it over and over.