Massasauga Ratlesnake

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Is the Massasauga Ratlesnake right for you?

Species group:

Other common names: Desert Massasauga; Edward's Massasauga; Edward's Rattlesnake; Eastern Massasauga; Western Massasauga

Scientific name: Sistrurus catenatus

The basics:
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

Massasauga Ratlesnake Health Tip

Massasauga Ratlesnake

From Benjamaphone Mar 25 2014 8:42PM


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