— Eastern Massasauga Rattlesnake ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ 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 declining over the past three decades due to loss and fragmentation of its wetland habitat. Throughout its range, biologists have confirmed that less than half of the eastern massasauga’s historical populations still exist. We know of 558 historical populations, of which 211 have been lost and the status of 84 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 populations are in Michigan and Ontario, Canada. New York, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Wisconsin and Iowa have fewer populations.
Eastern massasaugas have been found in a variety of wetland habitats, including bogs, fens, shrub swamps, wet meadows, marshes, moist grasslands, wet prairies and floodplain forests. They will shift the habitats they use, depending on the season. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ Females give birth to litters of 5 to 20 live young in August or early September. Female massasaugas reach sexual maturity at three or four years of age. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ Massasaugas usually hibernate in wetlands in crayfish or small mammal burrows. Hibernation sites are located below the frost line, often close to groundwater level. The presence of water that does not freeze is critical for suitabile hibernaculum. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ Massasaugas feed primarily on small mammals such as voles, moles, jumping mice, and shrews. They also will eat other snake species and occasionally birds and frogs. Young snakes depend more on cold-blooded prey, particularly frogs. Natural predators for the massasauga, particularly the eggs and young, include hawks, skunks, raccoons, and foxes. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ Caption - fws.org
Working at our property today, and in the barn flying around the rafters was this little guy. He was exhausted and couldn’t find his way out. Put my hand up in the air and he landed in my palm. Moved him outside and we sat together for 15 minutes. He shared my water with me then departed. For the next hr he kept coming back and sitting with me.