Endangered Species
Midwest Region



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Eastern Massasauga (Sistrurus catenatus)

Status: Candidate

eastern massasauga

Photo by Dick Dickinson


Eastern Massasauga

Status: Candidate; 1999


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


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.


The eastern massasauga has been a candidate for listing under the Endangered Species Act since 1999. Since then, we have worked with state natural resources agencies to develop Candidate Conservation Agreements with Assurances. The eastern massasauga was included in a court-approved settlement agreement. As a result, the Service is actively reviewing its status to determine whether is should be proposed for listing under the Endangered Species Act with a determination due by Sept. 30, 2015.


Life History, Ecology and Regulatory Information

Species Status Assessment (115-page PDF; 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.


Candidate Form


Fact Sheet


Species Spotlight: Eastern Massasauga - USFWS Chicago Field Office


Why Conserve  a Venomous Snake?


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


Questions and Answers About Conservation of the Eastern Massasauga


Eastern Massasauga - Michigan Society of Herpetologists


Eastern Massasauga Information from the Michigan DNR and Natural Features Inventory


Identification and Look-Alikes

Life History and Ecology

Safety Tips and Snakebite Treatment

Report an Observation in Michigan


Eastern Massasauga Conservation

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


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


Eastern Massasauga Survey and Management Guidances

A Handbook for Land Managers (PDF 1.2 MB)


Recommended Standard Survey Protocol




Midwest Endangered Species Home


Last updated: August 26, 2015