Herpetofauna: One Life's List

Sistrurus catenatus catenatus
Eastern Massasauga

Clinton Co., Illinois. March 22, 2003

Finally, finally finally, spring made an appearance in Illinois.  The day was sunny and warm (62 F), with a light wind.  We walked slowly and carefully over perfect Massasauga habitat, over wet ground pocked with crayfish holes and the remainders of last year's sedge.

Ken almost stepped on it, laying curled and concealed among the vegetation, still sporting a coat of mud from winter quarters deep in some crayfish burrow.

It was a great day for the little ground rattlers to emerge, a great day for us to find them, and by day's end we had tallied three, included a neonate born last year.  All three rattled at us, the neonate's tail a silent whir with only a button.

Once common before the plow and the parking lot, these unassuming and small snakes hang on in small pockets of habitat here and there throughout their historic range.

Related Herp Journal:

In Search of Massasaugas






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