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Eastern Massasauga (Sistrurus catenatus)
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service listed the eastern massasauga rattlesnake (Sistrurus catenatus) as a threatened species under the Endangered Species Act. We also determined that designating critical habitat for the eastern massasauga is not prudent. The final rule to list the eastern massasauga as threatened publishes in the Federal Register on Sept. 30, 2016 - a public inspection version is available on Sept. 29.
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 species, a candidate for listing since 1999, has been declining over the past few decades due to loss and fragmentation of its wetland habitat. Nearly 40 percent of the historical populations are now extirpated and an additional 15 percent are of uncertain status. Of those known remaining populations, most are experiencing ongoing threats, meaning additional population losses are anticipated in the future.
Final Rule (Federal Register)
Species Status Assessment (117-page PDF ; 2.4MB)
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.
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).
Conservation and Research
Managing for Massasaugas - Edward Lowe Foundation | Land Stewardship. 4-page PDF. 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
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
Survey and Management Guidances
A Handbook for Land Managers (PDF 1.2 MB)
Last updated: September 29, 2016