Eastern Massasauga (Sistrurus catenatus) - Ohio Herp Atlas

Eastern Massasauga Sistrurus catenatus - Endangered

“Swamp rattler”and “black snapper”are other names given to this small rattlesnake. The name massasauga is from the Chippewa Indian language and refers to the marshy areas associated with the mouth of a river. Historically recorded in more than 30 Ohio counties, the secretive Massasauga is widely scattered and rarely seen. Originally, these rattlers probably inhabited all the scattered prairies of glaciated Ohio, but extensive farming has drastically reduced their numbers. Colonies still persist in bogs, swamps, and wet prairies within glaciated Ohio. Few, if any, are found in the Lake Erie marshes. During summer, these rattlers range upland into nearby drier areas in search of small rodents. This snake is designated as state endangered. Massasaugas typically are very sluggish and make little or no attempt to bite unless thoroughly aroused. The bite is seldom, if ever, fatal to a healthy adult. Although the venom is highly toxic, a typical bite does not deliver large enough quantities to be lethal. This is still a venomous snake, however, and should be treated with utmost caution and respect. As with any venom (including that from a honeybee sting), it is possible for a victim to experience a life-threatening allergic reaction. Its color varies from gray to brownish gray – and some specimens are almost entirely black. The stout-bodied Massasauga can easily be identified by its small but conspicuous rattle. LENGTH: 18”–24”

Text courtesy of the Ohio Division of Wildlife: https://wildlife.ohiodnr.gov/portals/wildlife/pdfs/publications/id%20guides/pub354_Reptiles-opt.pdf

Distribution Map
Distribution of the Eastern Massasauga (Sistrurus catenatus)
Eastern Massasauga (Sistrurus catenatus)
Eastern Massasauga (Sistrurus catenatus)