Rattlesnake Press Materials

First Ever Lincoln Park Zoo-Bred Rattlesnake Birth

Thirteen eastern massasauga rattlesnakes born at Lincoln Park Zoo
Chicago (June 24, 2014) — Lincoln Park Zoo is thrilled to announce the birth of 13 eastern massasauga rattlesnakes, an endangered species in Illinois. The slithering snakes were born behind-the-scenes on June 20 and represent first ever zoo-bred litter of massasaugas at the Lincoln Park Zoo.

The adult rattlesnakes were recommended to breed as a part of the Eastern Massasauga Rattlesnake Species Survival Plan (SSP) which cooperatively manages the population of this endangered species, advancing long-term health of the species. The 13 babies join eight other massasaugas behind-the-scenes at the zoo.

“We are overjoyed by the arrival of this litter,” said Diane Mulkerin, curator at Lincoln Park Zoo. “The zoo is extremely enthusiastic about the significant positive impact these rattlesnakes will have on this endangered population.”

In 2009, in collaboration with the Illinois Department of Natural Resources (DNR), United States Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) and the Cook County Forest Preserve District, Lincoln Park Zoo located the last remaining massasaugas in the Chicagoland area and brought them to the zoo for protection from predators and habitat loss. The Recovery Team is part of a larger effort to protect native populations in peril.

Eastern massasauga rattlesnakes can reach up to 30 inches long and are recognized by their dark saddles, unique coloration and powerful “rattles” on their tails. This specific species natural habitat ranges from the Midwest to New York and Ontario, living in moist landscapes including forests, fields and marshes and hibernating through the winter in underwater burrows.

“Currently, the baby rattlesnakes are just about the size of a US quarter when coiled but are fully independent from the dam,” said Mulkerin.

While the rattlesnakes remain behind-the-scenes, guests can still visit several reptiles and amphibians in the Small Mammal Reptile House daily from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. 


Media Contacts

Sharon Dewar
(312) 742-2246



Jillian Braun
(312) 742-5791


Chicago’s Lincoln Park Zoo, a historic landmark founded in 1868, is dedicated to connecting people with nature by providing a free, family-oriented wildlife experience. A leader in conservation science both globally and locally, the zoo exemplifies the highest quality animal care and educational outreach. The not-for-profit zoo, managed by The Lincoln Park Zoological Society, is a member-supported organization and one of the nation’s only free, privately managed zoos. For more information, call 312 -742-2000 or visit www.lpzoo.org.





Eastern massasauga rattlesnake Video  (76MB .mp4)