eastern Massasauga (Sistrurus catenatus)
Where Listed: WHEREVER FOUND
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
|Status||Date Listed||Lead Region||Where Listed|
|2016-09-30||Great Lakes-Big Rivers Region (Region 3)||Wherever found|
» Federal Register Documents
No recovery information is available for the eastern Massasauga.
» Critical Habitat
No critical habitat rules have been published for the eastern Massasauga.
» Conservation Plans
|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|
» Life History
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.
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).
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.