Saturday, September 13, 2008

Eastern Massasauga Rattlesnake

Ooh, look what I found! It looks so cute and friendly. I think it's wagging it's tail at me! What's that rattling sound? Should I pet it?

Warning! The Eastern Massasauga Rattlesnake is a venomous snake. This rattler is very dangerous to people and their pets. If you think one of these snakes has bitten someone, seek medical help immediately.

Its venom is very toxic, but healthy adult humans rarely die from a bite because its teeth are too small to inject enough for great harm. However, a bite should still be considered very dangerous. If you are bitten, remain calm and try to keep still. Don't cut or place ice on the wound, and don't try to suck out the poison. Get medical attention as soon as possible.

Michigan is probably the last stronghold for the Eastern Massasauga Rattlesnake (Sisturus Catenatus). The word "massasauga" comes from the Chippewa language meaning "great river mouth." This is because of its habitat of swamps, which are often found around the mouths of rivers. It's also called the "Swamp Rattler", "Black Snapper", and "Michigan Rattler." I just found out, even though they are becoming endangered, they have one of their larger populations right in my area. During spring, Massasaugas use open shallow wetlands or shrub swamps. During summer, they move upland to drier areas. Look for them sunning themselves in open fields or grassy meadows.

That's pretty scary. These are some of the type of places I've been going. The good thing is, if you encounter this snake, it will try to get away before it tries to bite. It will only bite if you corner it or try to catch it. They are normally shy and non-aggressive.

They actually are beneficial to the environment. They eat small insects, mammals like mice, reptiles, and amphibians. They are eaten by eagles, herons, and some mammals.

As you may be able to see in this last picture, both snakes are in glass cases, so I was well protected. I took the pictures in the nature center at Kensington Metropark. That's the closest I ever want to be to an Eastern Massasauga Rattlesnake!


  1. You had me going for a minute until you said the rattler was behind glass. I was worried a little Ratty was going to become a meal.

  2. The snake probably thought I looked kind of tasty. They do like rodents.