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The massasauga rattlesnake is 2 to 3 feet in length, with brown body patches edged in black and a grayish-yellow rattle. “Massasauga” means “great river mouth” in Native American Chippewa. There are two of these snakes at the Zoo, one male and one female. The male, born in 2001, came to the Zoo in 2003, while the female, born in 2006, came to the Zoo in 2011.
International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List status: Least Concern; endangered in New York State. The massasauga rattlesnake is at risk in its range due to bounty hunting, the illegal pet trade and draining and dredging of wetlands. Without management and added protection, this species could be lost in a great portion of its range. The Seneca Park Zoo takes part in the Species Survival Plan for the massasauga rattlesnake.
These rattlesnakes live in lowland areas, such as wetlands along rivers, lakes and marshes in Wisconsin through Central New York and Missouri.
Rodents, frogs and snakes make up most of the massasauga rattlesnake’s diet.