In 2009, the Eastern Massasauga Rattlesnake Species Survival Plan (SSP) began surveying the wetlands of Michigan looking for rattlesnakes. The survey takes place every year in May at the SSP's annual meeting at the Edward Lowe Foundation. People from all across the country converge to help with the efforts. The hope is to learn more about the natural history of these snakes in their natural ranges, their population size and other key physiological data. Each rattlesnake found is weighed, measured and a blood sample is collected. A microchip is placed under the skin as a unique identifier for subsequent surveys. The markings, or saddle patterns, are also noted as each pattern is unique. Once all the data has been collected, the snake is returned to where it was found.
Eastern Massasauga rattlesnakes are not unique to Michigan. The Seneca Park Zoo is conducting similar surveys to learn about the population of these rattlesnakes is Upstate New York. For more information on the Eastern Massasauga Rattlesnake SSP, click here.