Eastern massasauga rattlesnake in exhibit

Eastern Massasauga Rattlesnake

Scientific Name

Sistrurus catenatus catenatus






From the midwestern United States to New York and Ontario


Wetlands and grasslands

Estimated Wild Population

Eastern massasauga rattlesnake in exhibit
IUCN Conservation Status: LEAST CONCERN IUCN Conservation Status: LEAST CONCERN

More Information

Physical Description

Eastern massasauga rattlesnakes can reach up to 30 inches in length. Their cryptic coloration—irregularly dark saddles alternating against a lighter background—helps them blend into the leaves and branches of their wetland habitat, and their tail ends in a namesake “rattle,” a collection of modified scales. They spend the winter hibernating in underwater burrows, where the cold temperature induces a state of suspended animation until spring.

Interesting Fact 1

Eastern massasaugas rarely use their tail rattle to warn off predators, opting instead to stay motionless in the presence of intruders.

Interesting Fact 2

These snakes detect their prey via vibrations in the ground, a strong sense of smell, and heat-sensing pits on the sides of their face.

Interesting Fact 3

Although their venom is potentially life threatening, they aren’t generally considered a threat to humans, as they are reluctant to bite and typically only do so when cornered.

Species Survival Plan logo

Species Survival Plan®

We cooperate with other members of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums to manage the zoo population of this species through a Species Survival Plan®.

Learn More

Animal Care staff working with seal

Commitment to Care

Lincoln Park Zoo prioritizes individual well-being over everything else. Guided by scientific research, staff and volunteers work to provide the best welfare outcomes for each individual in the zoo’s care.

Learn More

Support Your Zoo

Two Chilean flamingos in exhibit

Animals Depend On People Too

When you ADOPT an animal, you support world-class animal care by helping to provide specially formulated diets, new habitat elements, and regular veterinary checkups.

ADOPT an Animal

Asian small-clawed otter in exhibit

Wish List

The Wish List is full of one-of-a-kind items for the zoo’s animals, including nutritious snacks and enrichment items to keep them active and healthy. 

Browse the Wish List

Take Action With Us

Wildlife face many daunting challenges—some global, like planet-wide climate change, and some that affect individuals, like an animal ingesting plastic—but now is not the time to despair. None of these problems are too big for us to come together and solve.

Learn More