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 Endangered Status Graph - Least Concern Endangered Status Graph - Least Concern

More Information

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.

Did You Know?

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

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.

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.

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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®.

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