eastern Massasauga (Sistrurus catenatus)

Federal Register | Recovery | Critical Habitat | Conservation Plans | Petitions | Life History

Listing Status:   

Where Listed: WHEREVER FOUND

General Information

Massasaugas are small snakes with thick bodies, heart-shaped heads and vertical pupils. The average length of an adult is about 2 feet. Adult massasaugas are gray or light brown with large, light-edged chocolate brown blotches on the back and smaller blotches on the sides. The snake's belly is marbled dark gray or black and there is a narrow, white stripe on its head. Its tail has several dark brown rings and is tipped by gray-yellow horny rattles. Young snakes have the same markings, but are more vividly colored. The head is a triangular shape and the pupils are vertical.

  • States/US Territories in which the eastern Massasauga, Wherever found is known to or is believed to occur:  Illinois , Indiana , Iowa , Michigan , Minnesota , New York , Ohio , Pennsylvania , Wisconsin
  • US Counties in which the eastern Massasauga, Wherever found is known to or is believed to occur:  View All
  • USFWS Refuges in which the eastern Massasauga, Wherever found is known to occur:  Necedah National Wildlife Refuge, Upper Mississippi River National Wildlife and Fish Refuge
  • Countries in which the the eastern Massasauga, Wherever found is known to occur:  Canada
  • Additional species information
 
Current Listing Status Summary
Status Date Listed Lead Region Where Listed
2016-09-30 Great Lakes-Big Rivers Region (Region 3) Wherever found

» Federal Register Documents

Federal Register Documents
Date Citation Page Title
1982-12-30 00:00:00.0 47 FR 58454 58460 Review of Vertebrate Wildlife for Listing as End. or Thr. Species
2002-06-13 00:00:00.0 67 FR 40657 40679 Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants; Review of Species That Are Candidates or Proposed for Listing as Endangered or Threatened; Annual Notice of Findings on Recycled Petitions; Annual Description of Progress on Listing Actions
2008-12-10 00:00:00.0 73 FR 75176 75244 Review of Native Species That Are Candidates for Listing as Endangered or Threatened; Annual Notice of Findings on Resubmitted Petitions; Annual Description of Progress on Listing Actions; Proposed Rule
2014-12-05 00:00:00.0 79 FR 72449 72497 Review of Native Species That Are Candidates for Listing as Endangered or Threatened; Annual Notice of Findings on Resubmitted Petitions; Annual Description of Progress on Listing Actions
2011-10-26 00:00:00.0 76 FR 66370 66439 Review of Native Species That Are Candidates for Listing as Endangered or Threatened; Annual Notice of Findings on Resubmitted Petitions; Annual Description of Progress on Listing Actions
2010-11-10 00:00:00.0 75 FR 69222 69294 Review of Native Species That Are Candidates for Listing as Endangered or Threatened; Annual Notice of Findings on Resubmitted Petitions; Annual Description of Progress on Listing Actions; Proposed Rule
2009-11-09 00:00:00.0 74 FR 57804 57878 Review of Native Species That Are Candidates for Listing as Endangered or Threatened; Annual Notice of Findings on Resubmitted Petitions; Annual Description of Progress on Listing Actions
2004-05-04 00:00:00.0 69 FR 24876 24904 Review of Species That Are Candidates or Proposed for Listing as Endangered or Threatened; Annual Notice of Findings on Resubmitted Petitions; Annual Description of Progress on Listing Actions
2016-09-30 00:00:00.0 81 FR 67193 67214 Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants; Threatened Species Status for the Eastern Massasauga Rattlesnake
2006-09-12 00:00:00.0 71 FR 53756 53835 Review of Native Species That Are Candidates or Proposed for Listing as Endangered or Threatened; Annual Notice of Findings on Resubmitted Petitions; Annual Description of Progress on Listing Actions
2007-12-06 00:00:00.0 72 FR 69034 69106 Review of Native Species That Are Candidates for Listing as Endangered or Threatened; Annual Notice of Findings on Resubmitted Petitions; Annual Description of Progress on Listing Actions; Proposed Rule
2012-11-21 00:00:00.0 77 FR 69993 70060 Review of Native Species That Are Candidates for Listing as Endangered or Threatened; Annual Notice of Findings on Resubmitted Petitions; Annual Description of Progress on Listing Actions
2015-09-30 00:00:00.0 80 FR 58688 58701 Threatened Species Status for the Eastern Massasauga Rattlesnake; Proposed rule
2001-10-30 00:00:00.0 66 FR 54808 54832 ETWP; Review of Plant and Animal Species That Are Candidates or Proposed for Listing as Endangered or Threatened,Annual Notice of Findings on Recycled Petitions, and Annual Description of Progress on Listing Actions; Proposed Rule
1999-10-25 00:00:00.0 64 FR 57535 57547 Review of Plant and Animal Taxa That Are Candidates or Proposed for Listing as Endangered or Threatened; Annual Notice of Findings on Recycled Petitions; Annual Description of Progress on Listing Actions
2013-11-22 00:00:00.0 77 FR 70103 70162 Review of Native Species That are Candidates for Listing as Endangered or Threatened; Annual Notice of Findings on Resubmitted Petitions; Annual Description of Progress on Listing Actions
2005-05-11 00:00:00.0 70 FR 24870 24934 Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants; Review of Native Species That Are Candidates or Proposed for Listing as Endangered or Threatened; Annual Notice of Findings on Resubmitted Petitions; Annual Description of Progress on Listing Actions; Proposed Rule

» Recovery

No recovery information is available for the eastern Massasauga.

» Critical Habitat

No critical habitat rules have been published for the eastern Massasauga.

» Conservation Plans

Candidate Conservation Agreements with Assurances (CCAA): (learn more)
CCAA Plan Summaries
Eastern massasauga rattlesnake CCAA for Lower Chippewa River Bottoms, WI
Eastern massasauga rattlesnake CCAA for Rome State Nature Preserve, Ashtabula County, Ohio

» Petitions

» Life History

Habitat Requirements

Massasaugas live in wet areas including wet prairies, marshes and low areas along rivers and lakes. In many areas massasaugas also use adjacent uplands during part of the year. They often hibernate in crayfish burrows but may also be found under logs and tree roots or in small mammal burrows. Unlike other rattlesnakes, massasaugas hibernate alone. Lack of management and improper timing of management are threats to massasaugas. The snake's habitat needs vegetation control such as prescribed fire and mowing to prevent invasion of shrubs, trees and non-native plants. Woody plant invasion is reducing the amount of available habitat in some areas. Where land is managed to prevent woody invasion, snakes may be killed by prescribed fire and mowing when it happens after snakes emerge from hibernation.

Food Habits

Massasaugas eat small rodents such as mice and voles but they sometimes eat frogs and other snakes. They hunt by sitting and waiting. Heat sensitive pits near the snake's eyes alert the snake to the presence of prey. They can find their prey by sight, by feeling vibrations, by sensing heat given off by their prey, and by detecting chemicals given off by the animal (like odors).

Reproductive Strategy

Like all rattlesnakes, massasaugas bear live young. Depending on their health, adult females may bear young every year or every other year. When food is especially scarce they may only have young every three years. Most massasaugas mate in late summer, and give birth about a year later. Litter size varies from 5 to 20 young.

» Other Resources

NatureServe Explorer Species Reports -- NatureServe Explorer is a source for authoritative conservation information on more than 50,000 plants, animals and ecological communtities of the U.S and Canada. NatureServe Explorer provides in-depth information on rare and endangered species, but includes common plants and animals too. NatureServe Explorer is a product of NatureServe in collaboration with the Natural Heritage Network.

ITIS Reports -- ITIS (the Integrated Taxonomic Information System) is a source for authoritative taxonomic information on plants, animals, fungi, and microbes of North America and the world.

FWS Digital Media Library -- The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's National Digital Library is a searchable collection of selected images, historical artifacts, audio clips, publications, and video.