First placed on the candidate list: 1982
Years waiting for protection: 22
Range: Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Canada (Ontario)
Habitat: wetlands and adjacent uplands

The Eastern Massasauga is a wetland rattlesnake of the Midwest and Great Lakes. It was placed on the federal candidate list for Endangered Species Act protection in 1982. During the 22 years it has been awaiting protection, its habitat and population numbers have continued to decline. It is now extirpated from 40% of the counties it historically inhabited due to wetland losses from urban and suburban sprawl, golf courses, mining and agriculture. As the massasauga seeks out food and mates, it suffers high mortality rates from having to cross roads and degraded habitats where it is more easily seen by natural and human predators.

The eastern massasauga is a thick-bodied snake, 18- to 30-inches long, with large brown blotches on its back and smaller lighter brown patches on its sides. It is generally docile and is unlikely to bite unless handled or threatened. It occupies shallow wetlands and adjoining uplands, including peatlands, marshes, sedge meadows, swamp forests, open savannas, prairies, and old fields. It preys on small rodents and frogs.

graphic Andrew Rodman ©2002
May 2, 2004
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