EASTERN MASSASAUGA


Scientific name: Sistrurus catenatus catenatus

Size

The average size of a mature Eastern Massasauga is 1.5 - 2.5 feet in length. The largest one ever recorded is 39.5 inches.

Description

The Eastern Massasauga is a heavy-bodied snake. The body of the snake is brown or grey. The snake is marked by dark brown or black blotches along its spine, and two or three rows of dark brown or black blotches on its sides. The blotches are sometimes outlined in white and often form into crossbands near the tail. The belly of the Eastern Massasauga is mostly black with scattered white or yellow markings. The end of the tail has a rattle on it.

There is a cheek-stripe on both sides of the head that starts at the eye and runs diagonally down and backwards to the jaw. The top of the head is marked by two stripes that continue on to the neck.

The Eastern Massasauga is categorized as one of several primitive rattlesnakes in the genus Sistrurus. Unlike other rattlesnakes, these rattlesnakes have 9 enlarged scales on the top of their head.

The Eastern Massasauga has elliptical pupils that look like cat's eyes and like all pit vipers, has a heat-sensing pit between the nostril and eye on each side of its head. The Eastern Massasauga has a large, triangular head that is wider than the neck when viewed from above.

Distribution

In the United States, the Eastern Massasauga is found in Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, Missouri, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin.
Map of US states the Eastern Massasauga is found in.
Map does not show area of true distribution, only the states in which there is a population.
Actual distribution in any highlighted state may be limited.

Eastern Massasauga
Photo used by permission:
© 2002 John White

Eastern Massasauga
Photo used by permission:
© 2004 Mike Pingleton

Eastern Massasauga
Photo used by permission:
© 2004 Mike Pingleton

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