Eastern Massasauga Rattlesnake

(Sistrurus catenatus catenatus)


Animal Info

The Eastern 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. The Zoo is home to one female and two males.

Status in the Wild

International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List status: Least Concern; endangered in New York State. The Eastern 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. Seneca Park Zoo takes part in the Species Survival Plan for the Eastern Massasauga rattlesnake.


Terrestrial zones in dry, temperate forests, prairies and scrublands throughout Central and Eastern United States and Southern Canada, between the Rocky Mountains and Southern New England.


Rodents, frogs and snakes make up most of the Eastern Massasauga rattlesnake’s diet.

Did you know?

An Eastern Massasauga rattlesnake is venomous, but a bite from such a snake would most likely not be fatal.

Massasaugas are ovoviviparous, meaning that they give birth to live young.

The favorite hibernation spot for a, Eastern Massasauga rattlesnake is a burrow built in river bottom dugouts.

Massasaugas rely on their coloration to avoid being detected.

The size of the rattle on an Eastern Massasauga rattlesnake represents the number of times it has molted, which can occur 3 to 5 times a year.

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