Eastern Massasauga
Eastern Massasauga (=rattlesnake)
FWS Focus


Massasaugas are small snakes with thick bodies, heart-shaped heads and vertical pupils. The average length of an adult is about 2 feet. Adult massasaugas are gray or light brown with large, light-edged chocolate brown blotches on the back and smaller blotches on the sides. The snake's belly is marbled dark gray or black and there is a narrow, white stripe on its head. Its tail has several dark brown rings and is tipped by gray-yellow horny rattles. Young snakes have the same markings, but are more vividly colored. The head is a triangular shape and the pupils are vertical. Massasaugas live in wet areas including wet prairies, marshes, fens, sedge meadows, peatlands, and low areas along rivers and lakes. Massasaugas also use adjacent uplands (shrubland, open woodlands, prairie) during part of the year. They often hibernate in crayfish burrows but may also be found under logs and tree roots or in small mammal burrows. Unlike other rattlesnakes, massasaugas hibernate alone.

Scientific Name

Sistrurus catenatus
Common Name
Eastern Massasauga
Eastern Massasauga (=rattlesnake)
FWS Category

Location in Taxonomic Tree

Identification Numbers



Launch Interactive Map


Explore the information available for this taxon's timeline. You can select an event on the timeline to view more information, or cycle through the content available in the carousel below.

28 Items