Species group: Rattlesnakes and Other Vipers
Other common names: Desert Massasauga; Edward's Massasauga; Edward's Rattlesnake; Eastern Massasauga; Western Massasauga
Scientific name: Sistrurus catenatus
Among the most diminutive of all rattlesnakes, the Masasauga’s size and retiring ways tricks some snake fans into believing that it might make a suitable pet. However, Massasauga venom is very potent, and human fatalities have been recorded…this is not a species for private collections!
The 3 recognized subspecies range from Ontario, Canada, though much of the USA as far west as Nebraska, and south to northern Mexico.
Depending upon the subspecies in question, Massasaugas may be found in bogs, overgrown fields, open woodlands, rocky hillsides, desert grasslands and similar habitats.
Appearance / health:
The body varies from light to dark gray in color, and sports dark brown to near-black markings. Adults reach 35-91 cm (13-36 in) in length.
Zoo specimens prove hardy but are sensitive to disturbances and other stresses. Captives have reached age 20+.
Behavior / temperament:
Massasaugas are somewhat shy and retiring, but remain ready to defend themselves if unsettled.
It is impossible for a private snake owner to adequately prepare for or treat a venomous snakebite, or, prior to a bite, to arrange for treatment in a hospital.
The wild diet includes voles and other small rodents, snakes, frogs, lizards and bird eggs. Zoo animals are fed small mice.
Female Massasaugas often reproduce bi-annually, mating in spring and giving birth to 2-15 live young in late summer or autumn.
Written by Frank Indiviglio
medical attention, average person, bad temper, venomous pit viper
extremely rare species, short snake, classic rattling tail, amazing camouflage
Once in a Lifetime Wildlife Opportunity
The Massasauaga rattlesnake is an extremely rare species and is the only venomous snake in Ontario. I had the great opportunity to work with these animals as part of my field work for university. As they are protected, we would respond to any reports from the public and we would remove and relocate the animals to more remote locations.
They were often found by the water at people's cottages and they were pretty easy to miss with their amazing camouflage. We used a long metal rod that had a crook at the end to carefully pick the snakes up and put them in a cloth sac. This was a very popular recreational area in cottage country Ontario, so when we had the snakes we would drive about an hour North and release them in a National Park. It was truly amazing to be able to handle these amazing creatures. The patterns on their skin, the arrow shaped head and the classic rattling tail are absolutely gorgeous and it was great to see it all up close.
Occasionally we were alerted to injured snakes either from a car accident or an encounter with a person welding a shovel. These snakes were brought to a rescue center that would nurse them back to health. If you ever come across one of these animals please do not harm them or attempt to pick them up or move them. Call you local animal control hotline and there will be professionals who will come and know how to handle the snakes. These animals are NOT pets and should not be kept in any kind of captivity..
From Benjamaphone Mar 25 2014 8:42PM