Eastern Massasauga Rattlesnake

ANIMAL:
Eastern Massasauga Rattlesnake        Sistrurus catenatus

Type of Animal:
Viper

Habitat:
Wetlands, open upland areas, open fields, prairies, marshes, low areas along rivers/lakes, crayfish burrows, small mammal burrows, swamps, upland open shrub forest, farmland, meadows, bogs

Location(s):
C & W New York south of Lake Ontario, W Pennsylvania, N & C Ohio, N Indiana, lower Michigan, Illinois, S Wisconsin, extreme SE Minnesota, E Iowa, NE Missouri, & S Ontario along shores of Georgian Bay, Lake Huron, & Lake Erie.

Appearance:
Thick bodies w/ gray, gray-brown, or brownish color, dark brown blotches w/ smaller lighter brown patches on sides, wide triangular head, slit shaped pupils, young have small yellow buttonlike rattles at tip of tail, adult rattles grayish-yellow.

Food/Diet:
Rodents, weasels (in fights to death), shrews, amphibians, other snakes, lizards, centipedes, birds, bird eggs, insects

Status in Wild:
Threatened

Conservation:
Breeding from zoos & reptile breeders. Reintroduction programs in areas where scarce.

Lifestyle:
Solitary

Additional Info:

Called:
Male
Female
Young-Snakelet
Group-Solitary

Weight:
Male-11 oz
Female-15 oz
Young-1 oz

Gestation:
2-4 months 

Life Span:
10-15 years

Body Length:
Male-3 ft
Female-2 ft
Young-1 ft

Main predators are hawks, owls, falcons, bobcats, foxes, coyotes, wolves, eagles, herons, larger snakes, snapping turtles, cranes, dogs, cats, raccoons, weasels (sometimes weasel gets eaten), bullfrogs, shrikes, corvids, otters, pigs, & skunks

Like many snakes, they’re ambush predators.

Threatened due to persecution, pet trade, habitat loss, wetland drainage, inbreeding, & disease.

Gives birth to 2-20 live young.

Uses cryptic coloration to ambush prey & avoid predators.

Often return to same hibernation area each year.

Sexually mature at 3 years.

Fun Fact(s):
They’re known by many names, such as swamp rattler & eastern massasauga great adder.

The name “Massasauga” comes from Chippewa word meaning “Great River Mouth.”

25-50% of bites are dry bites in which no venom delivered.

These snakes very docile & won’t bite if not harassed/stepped on.

Venom is cytotoxic, destroying tissue.

Since they eat rodents, they prevent spread of rodent-transmitted diseases.

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