In Search of Massasaugas (continued)


Photographing in situ.

The second 'Sauga.


The little rattler remained motionless as we knelt for a closer look, and to take photographs.  It looked to have three rattle segments in addition to the button, and the rattle as a whole looked much slimmer than other crotalid species I'd come across.  I was pleased to have a close-up look at the nine enlarged scales on the top of the head.  These are one of the things that set the Massasaugas and Pigmy Rattlers, the little Sistrurus rattlers, apart from the other rattlesnakes; Crotalus rattlesnakes have a lot of small scales on the top of their heads.  And not many Crotalus crawl into crayfish burrows for the winter, I thought to myself.

Off to look for more as the temperature climbed into the sixties.  Massasaugas weren't he only snake out and about today - Eastern Garter snakes were in abundance, another species that takes advantage of the crayfishes' hard labor.

A second Massasauga made its appearance, coiled in the sun on a tuft of grass.  This one was larger, about thirty inches in length.  'Old' adults can reach a yard in length, and the record is just under forty inches. This individual drew into a defensive pose and rattled at us; the noise was a high pitched buzz, compared to other rattlers.  The rattling motion seemed faster as well.  We treated them with respect - the venom yield for this species is fairly small, but the venom is potent and a bite would be a very painful experience.

Ken had the good eye today and spotted a yearling snake from some distance away, coiled up near the base of a tree.  It remained motionless as we crept closer for picture-taking.  It was fairly small, perhaps 10-12 inches in length, with a well-defined pattern.

next page                    back to index