Endangered Species
Midwest Region



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Eastern massasauga rattlesnake on a log.


Eastern Massasauga (Sistrurus catenatus)

Status: Proposed as Threatened


The eastern massasauga is a small, thick-bodied rattlesnake that lives in shallow wetlands and adjacent uplands in portions of Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, and Ontario.

eastern massasauga

Photo by Dick Dickinson

Eastern Massasauga

Status: Proposed as Threatened; 2015


Habitat: Open to forested wetlands and adjacent upland areas


Lead Region: 3


Region 3 Lead Office: Chicago, Illinois Field Office


Range: Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, and Ontario



from the Michigan DNR


From the Michigan DNR Natural Features Inventory


About Massasaugas


Identification and Look-Alikes


Life History and Ecology


Safety Tips and Snakebite Treatment


Report an Observation in Michigan



Proposed Candidate Conservation Agreement

Feb. 23, 2016

The Michigan Department of Natural Resources applied for an enhancement of survival permit under the Endangered Species Act. The permit would authorize take of eastern massasauga rattlesnake (Sistrurus catenatus), resulting from certain land use and conservation activities, should the species be listed as endangered or threatened in the future. We are accepting comments on the permit application and the draft CCAA on or before March 24, 2016.


Proposed CCAA and Supporting Information

About CCAAs


Proposal to List Eastern Massasauga as a Threatened Species

Sept. 29, 2015

Throughout its range, less than half of the eastern massasauga’s historical populations have been confirmed to still exist.  We know of 581 historical populations, of which 193 have been lost and the status of 121 is uncertain – with the likelihood that many of those populations have also been lost.  We have information indicating that 267 of the historical populations still exist today; most of those remaining populations have some level of threat.


News Release


Federal Register Proposed Rule


Questions and Answers


Fact Sheet


Species Status Assessment (115-page PDF Adobe PDF Icon; 2MB)

This report summarizes the results of an assessment of the eastern massasauga's overall viability. The assessment begins with a description of the snake’s ecological requirements for survival and reproduction as they relate to its overall viability. We generally defined viability as the ability of the species to maintain self-sustaining populations over the long-term. Using the principles of resiliency, representation, and redundancy, we considered the species’ needs at the individual, population, and species scales. We also identified the beneficial and risk factors influencing the species’ viability. We considered the degree to which the species’ ecological needs are met both currently and as can be forecasted into the future, and assessed the consequences of any unmet needs as they relate to species viability.


Range wide Extinction Risk Modeling for the Eastern Massasauga Rattlesnake (Sistrurus catenatus catenatus) (66-page PDF Adobe PDF Icon; 2.3MB)


Life History and Ecology

Live and Let Live - Oakland County, Michigan Blog


Species Spotlight: Eastern Massasauga - USFWS Chicago Field Office


Eastern Massasauga - Michigan Society of Herpetologists


Species Survival Plan

AZA Species Survival Plan - A Species Survival Plan® is a collaborative science-based management program of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA).


Michigan is Main Focus of Eastern Massasauga Rattlesnake Survival Plan


Lincoln Park Zoo Recovery Efforts


Conservation and Research

Managing for Massasaugas - Edward Lowe Foundation | Land Stewardship. 4-page PDF. 2012


Long-term Research on Rattlesnake Life History Will Help Managers Plan Habitat Restoration August 7, 2012


Species Action Plan - Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission (PDF). June 2011


Learning to Live with the Eastern Massasauga Rattlesnake: Expanding Outreach and Education in Southern Michigan Dec. 31, 2009. 171-page PDF


Spotlight Species Action Plan October 2009. 9-Page PDF


Restoring Southeast Michigan’s High Diversity Landscapes Through Collaborative Stewardship – Hillsdale, Jackson, Lenawee, Oakland, and Washtenaw Counties, Michigan. Private Stewardship Grant (May 2007):


Reforestation and Wetland Restoration for Permanent Native Habitat in the St. Joseph River Watershed – Hillsdale County, Michigan; Defiance and Williams Counties, Ohio; Allen, Dekalb, and Noble Counties, Indiana Private Stewardship Grant. May 2007


Response to Habitat Management by the Eastern Massasauga (Sistrurus catenatus) at Carlyle Lake, lllinois S6 Grant Project. 2006


Molecular Diversity among Massasauga Rattlesnakes: Nuclear Intron Analyses S6 Grant Project 2006


Rome State Nature Preserve Candidate Conservation Agreement with Assurances Ashtabula County, Ohio. August 2006


Final Environmental Assessment for Eastern Massasauga Candidate Conservation Agreements in the Midwest. July 26, 2005


Survey and Management Guidances

A Handbook for Land Managers (PDF 1.2 MB)


Recommended Standard Survey Protocol



Questions and Answers About Conservation of the Eastern Massasauga


Candidate Form (2011)


Why Conserve  a Venomous Snake? (1999)


1998 Status Assessment (71-page PDF; 1.5 MB)




Midwest Endangered Species Home


Last updated: March 21, 2016