Saturday, August 9, 2008

The Eastern Massasauga Rattlesnake at Jennings Prairie

As we continued to explore the prairie plants and move along the trails, our group ran into one of the volunteers at Jennings. Joe visits the prairie on weekends to catch and tag Eastern Massasauga Rattlesnakes, Sistrurus catenatus catenatus.

Yep. You know what Joe is holding in the bag, but you don't know it is pregnant! A very pregnant and VERY angry Massasauga Rattlesnake!

I sure wish I could have taken a photograph of her outside of the bag!

She let it be known that she was not happy! She is a healthy snake and her rattles are loud! Joe told us that she was tagged with a chip three years ago, but that she had not been captured since. He was taking her to the center where her weight and measurments would be recorded. He would later release her where she was found.

I can not emphazsize how wonderful it is that this snake is pregnant. The massasauga is very endangered and only breeds once every two or three years. They breed in August and September and the young are born live the next summer. It is nice to think that her babies might already be living on the protected prairie at Jennings.


Margaret Cloud said...

Hi, I could not find your email to thank you for stopping by my blog. I have never seen a Massasauga rattler, we are suppose to have them here in Michigan. Our friend steped out her front door right on one, she did not get bit but she sure did scream, I hope the babies are doing well.

Kathleen said...

I would have screamed too! Apparently they are very shy and not often seen. The Western PA Conservancy asks anyone who sees one, even if it is dead, to let them know the location.

Margaret Cloud said...

Kathleen I will be sure to contact them if we see one, thanks.

Ruth said...

Thanks for visiting and commenting on my blog. Yours is very interesting. The Massasauga rattler is the only poisonous snake found in Ontario yet sightings are exceedingly rare. The area around Hamilton harbour on Lake Ontario used to be full of them.

Kathleen said...

Thanks Ruth, for visiting and leaving a comment on my blog. I'm sorry to hear that the massasauga is in trouble in your area too. It is very sad that so many of the creatures we share this planet with are becoming more and more rare - because of us. It is good to know that is is not too late and that in protected areas they can thrive. I hope you have a place like Jennings near you.