Two Michigan residents were bitten by a rare rattlesnake in one month, an incident the Department of Natural Resources says is unusual. Rattlesnake bites, while extremely rare in Michigan, can and do occur. Vogt, R. C. 1981. Note to readers: if you purchase something through one of our affiliate links we may earn a commission. The females give birth to litters of 5 to 20 live young in August or early September in mammal burrows or fallen logs in the uplands (Vogt 1981, Harding 1997). 2008). By rattlesnake standards, massasauga rattlers are small, averaging about 2 feet long as adults, reaching a maximum of about 30 inches. J. Herpetol. The Michigan DNR page on the Eastern Massasauga Rattlesnake … Jonathan decided to catch it in his fishing net. U.S. It is Michigan's only venomous snake, and one of only two rattlesnake species that occur in the Great Lakes region. Unpublished report to the Illinois Department of Conservation, Division Natural Heritage, Springfield, IL. Midl. Klauber, L.M. “She was a bit concerned,” Jonathan said. Massasaugas also are commonly killed by humans. BROOKLYN, MI – Jonathan Hotham came across a large snake while kayaking with his wife Jessica earlier this month. 8 pp. About the Natural Community Classification, Gray or grayish brown with dark blotches edged in white and spots down back and sides, 18.5-30 inches long; record 39.5 inches long, Pit on each side of head between eye and nostril, Tail thick, squarish; does not taper to a point like all other snakes in Michigan, Does not always rattle a warning; relies on pattern and remaining motionless to go undetected, Light gray or tan with brown or reddish-brown, black-bordered blotches running down back, Young similar to adults but blotches brighter red, Often Y- or V-shaped light marking on top of neck, Belly white with black checkerboard pattern, Eastern subspecies in Southeast Lower Peninsula only; western subspecies in Upper Peninsula only, Yellowish to light brown with black or dark brown blotches; head reddish or orangish, Belly yellow with black checkboard pattern, Most have dark spots/blotches on yellowish, reddish or brown background, but some solid black, brown or olive, When threatened, spreads neck to display two prominent black eyespots on neck and hisses; may turn over and play dead, Belly yellow-gray with greenish gray pattern, Light brown with dark brown or blackish blotches; older individuals may appear uniformly black, Belly cream with irregular rows of reddish or blackish half moon crescents. From Michigan Department of Natural Resources: The term “massasauga” means “great river mouth” in the Ojibwe language and was likely given to these snakes because … Since 2016, the massasauga has been considered federally-threatened, meaning it is likely or expected to become endangered, DNR officials have said. 36 pp. Within the last decade, eastern massasaugas have been reported from about 150 sites in 50 counties. 222pp. Glowacki, G. and R. Grundel. King (1997) reported mean home ranges of approximately 5 to 7 acres for neonates and gravid females, 17 acres for non-gravid females and 398 acres for males. It is a small- to medium-sized snake, with adult lengths averaging 2 to 3 feet. Movements and habitat utilization by the massasauga, S. c. catenatus. Still, it poses little to no threat to humans. These small rattlesnakes are shy and reclusive, and are seldom seen This snake is seen so seldom that there is much that most state residents do not know about these pit vipers. Three subspecies are currently recognized including the nominate subspecies described here. They have a heart-shaped head and vertical pupils – not the type of snake that you’ll want to bump into. The northern ring neck's signature mark however is a brightly colored yellow or orange … Moore and Gillingham (2006) followed the general movement patterns of massasaugas at a fen in Michigan and found emergence from hibernacula occurred in early to mid-April, then the snakes moved out of buckthorn dominated scrub\shrub or lowland hardwood floodplain to open and slightly higher elevation (approximately 5015m) emergent or scrub/shrub wetland during summer. The groundwater, which feeds these wetlands, allows the snakes to maintain their body temperature above freezing. Moore, J. Oregon: The Natural Areas Association. Master's Thesis: Habitat utilization, diet and behavior of the eastern massasauga (S. c. catenatus) in southern Michigan. Anyone who is bitten should seek professional medical attention. Location: Muskegon, Michigan, United States . This snake is seen so seldom that there is much that most state residents do not know about these pit vipers. The eastern massasauga is primarily associated with wetland habitats but some populations also utilize adjacent upland habitats for parts of its life history. After emergence … Still, it poses little to no threat to humans. Preliminary findings of a habitat use and movement patterns study of the eastern massasauga rattlesnake in Wisconsin. Reinert, H. K. 1981. Unpublished report to the U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Region 3 Office, Fort Snelling, MN. Massasauga home ranges and movement distances can be quite variable, which may be due to differing habitat structure and resource availability at the various sites (Moore and Gillingham 2006). If you are reading this in your Facebook app, use this link to view the entire gallery of photos. Natural history of amphibians and reptiles of Wisconsin. Reptiles are cold-blooded, and so usually pass the cold winters of Michigan … King, R. S. 1997. When it is disturbed or encountered in open habitat, the massasauga prefers to move to a more hidden location. All rights reserved (About Us). 378 pp. The rattle sound of the massasauga is different than the traditional sound of other rattlesnake species. But the recent uptick in rattlesnake sightings in the Bay Area has nothing to do with the global pandemic: It's the weather. 1998. 19 pp + apps. “It was the calmest snake I’ve ever interacted with,” Jonathan said. The massasauga rattlesnake is Michigan's only venomous snake. Johnson, G. 1995. Massasaugas have not been reported from Branch, Ingham, Shiawassee, Macomb, Huron, Clare, Oscoda, Montmorency and Emmet counties since prior to 1980 (some since the early 1900's). Anyone who is bitten should seek professional medical attention. The Eastern Massasauga Rattlesnake, sometimes called the Michigan Rattlesnake, Prairie Massasauga, or Swamp Massasauga, is one of several Michigan-native snakes, but is Michigan’s only venomous snake. Anyone who is bitten should seek professional medical attention. "'You should have killed it,' or ‘I would have killed it.’ It’s really unfortunate.”, Two Michigan residents bitten by rare rattlesnake in one month. “But I was stoked. If an individual kills one, it is considered a violation of the Endangered Species Act, unless the individual feels his or her life is in danger, they said. Michigan poison control centers report about 16 massasauga bites in a typical year. The primary reasons for the massasauga's decline in Michigan and rangewide are habitat loss and fragmentation, human persecution or indiscriminant killing, and illegal collection. Rattlesnakes can be found in almost every U.S. state. Univ. Currently the Massasuaga rattlesnake is listed in Michigan under Special Concern and is a candidate for federal listing. After … Michigan has the largest population of Eastern Massasauga Rattlesnakes in the country, despite the population declining. He didn’t try to come toward me, didn’t try to get off of the paddle, he was just totally chill.”. Small children and people in poor health are thought to be at greatest risk. The Hothams aren’t foreign to nature. Metro Toronto Zoo, Ontario, Canada. Ecology and conservation of an endangered rattlesnake, S. catenatus, in Missouri, U.S.A. Biol. Reptiles are found throughout Michigan, although the only venomous species, the eastern massasauga rattlesnake, is seen only in the Lower Peninsula. He also recorded mean range lengths of 0.03 mile for neonates, 0.2 mile for non-gravid females, 0.4 mile for gravid females, and 0.8 mile for males. Individuals tend to return to the same hibernation site each year (Prior 1991). The young are born enclosed in a thin egg sac from which they soon emerge. To examine the current status of the eastern massasauga rattlesnake at INDU, both active searching and passive collection were used. Michigan appears to be the last stronghold for this species with more massasauga populations currently than any other state or province within the species' range. 35: 333-346. 1533 pp. There have been 150 site reports in 5 counties over the last decade. On the same day, they encountered a tail-slapping beaver and stumbled upon a buck. Unpublished discussion paper for Canadian Parks Service. “He was totally happy just sitting there and being out of the water. Szymanski, J. In the middle of a 14-hour kayak fishing journey, the Hothams, who live in Napoleon, spotted the snake while paddling through Cleveland Lake near Brooklyn. RSS Bookmark Share.. Embed Print Favorite . Amer. This species tends to hibernate singly or in small groups of two or three (Johnson and Menzies 1993). Eastern Massasauga Rattlesnake (Sistrurus catenatus catenatus) Michigan's only venomous snake is a rare sight for most state residents. Most people in Michigan may never even see a massasauga in the wild because of its secretive behavior. Rattlesnake bites, while extremely rare in Michigan, can and do occur. The Eastern Massasauga Rattlesnake, sometimes called the Michigan Rattlesnake, Prairie Massasauga, or Swamp Massasauga, is one of several Michigan-native snakes, but is Michigan’s only venomous snake. However, Michigan's massasauga population also has declined. Subscribe to MLive.com. Please support high-quality journalism. They generally occupy wetland habitats in the spring, fall, and winter, but in the summer, snakes migrate to drier, upland sites, ranging from forest openings to old fields, agricultural lands and prairies. Unpublished report to the U.S. Johnson, B. and V. Menzies, eds. The presence of water that does not freeze is critical to hibernaculum suitability (Johnson 1995). Interestingly, the Southern tip of the state is the only place you will find the other species on this list. He “freaked out.” But not in the way many people would. Dissertation. Reproduction by the massasauga (S. c. catenatus). When they are threatened, eastern massasaugas will typically remain motionless, relying on their cryptic coloration to blend into their surroundings. © 2021 Advance Local Media LLC. Massasaugas now mainly occur in disjunct, isolated populations and have been afforded some level of legal protection in every state or province within its range. They also will consume other snake species and occasionally birds and frogs. Al… The material on this site may not be reproduced, distributed, transmitted, cached or otherwise used, except with the prior written permission of Advance Local. Soon after, he determined the snake was an Eastern massasauga rattlesnake – Michigan’s only venomous snake and rattlesnake, according to the state Department of Natural Resources. 32 pp. Pp. 1972. This seasonal shift in habitat use appears to vary regionally and among populations (Szymanski 1998). The snake’s high-frequency hiss, triangular head and narrow neck were a give-away, Jonathan said. Tracking rattlesnakes. It is a small- to medium-sized snake, with adult lengths averaging 2 to 3 feet. The adult massasauga rattlesnake is thick-bodied and can be 18 to … Specifically, all known sites appear to be characterized by the following: (1) open, sunny areas intermixed with shaded areas, presumably for thermoregulation; (2) presence of the water table near the surface for hibernation; and (3) variable elevations between adjoining lowland and upland habitats (Beltz 1992). Conserv. Registration on or use of this site constitutes acceptance of our User Agreement, Privacy Policy and Cookie Statement, and Your California Privacy Rights (each updated 1/1/21). 155-164 in Fifteenth North American Prairie Conference Proceedings, edited by C. Warwick. The snake is usually solid black or blue/blue gray in color. He never feared for his safety, he said. 2008). In Season of the Massasauga Rattler!, Jonathan Schechter writes that the massasauga likes our sun-soaked trails in the waning days of summer and early autumn, so you may catch a glimpse of one if you’re out and about in Lower Michigan. Summary of recent sightings of the eastern massasauga rattlesnake (S. c. catenatus) in Michigan and identification of significant population clusters. In Wisconsin, King (1997) documented only gravid females dispersing to the drier uplands to have their young, while the males and non-gravid females remained in the wetlands. Other studies have reported mean home ranges of 0.65 acres to 95 acres (Reinert and Kodrich 1982, Johnson 1995, Moore and Gillingham 2006, Durbian et al. The eastern massasauga rattlesnake (Sistrurus catenatus catenatus) is a unique and fascinating part of Michigan's natural heritage. “We’ve seen some crazy things. During the late spring, these snakes move from their winter hibernation sites, … Unpublished report to the U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Region 3 Office, Fort Snelling, MN. “Maybe 50 percent of the people I’ve talked to – friends, family coworkers – I get the ‘kill it’ comment,” Jonathan said. Hibernation sites are located below the frost line, often close to groundwater level. These sightings appear to cluster in several regions across the Lower Peninsula, indicating areas where massasaugas may be concentrated. Siegfried & Roy brought a glitz and glamour to the … Prior, K. A. Therefore, massasaugas may still be present in areas that lack recent, as well as historical, records. Two Michigan residents bitten by rare rattlesnake in one month The Hothams aren’t foreign to nature. Although the venom is highly toxic, fatalities are very uncommon because the species' short fangs can inject only a small volume (Klauber 1972). It prefers to avoid detection by hiding under vegetation, woody debris or other cover or remaining motionless and relying on its cryptic coloration. He estimates the snake was 27 to 29 inches long. After hearing comments from those who’ve seen the photos, Jonathan said he’s thankful he was the one to encounter the snake. 1990. Currently the Massasuaga rattlesnake is listed in Michigan under Special Concern and is a candidate for federal listing. 2008. These snakes are most commonly found in rocky areas in the arid Nevada climate, however the Great Basin Rattlesnake is a habitat generalist and can be found … The eastern massasauga was once common across its range but has declined dramatically since the mid-1970's, according to a 1998 eastern massasauga status assessment conducted by the U.S. In southeast Michigan, the eastern massasauga rattlesnake depends on open-herbaceous wetland habitat for surviving cold Midwest winters. Nearly one- third of the historical occurrences in the state has not been reconfirmed in the past ten years. Massasaugas usually are active between April and late October. This timid species is extremely reclusive and avoids humans as best it can, preferring to remain camouflaged or … Historically, eastern massasaugas were found throughout the Lower Peninsula and on Bois Blanc Island. Like all rattlesnakes, it is a pit viper, and like all pit vipers, it is venomous Amphibians and reptiles of the Great Lakes region. 31 pp. SUNY, College of Environmental Science and Forestry, Syracuse, NY. Manage.72(3):754-759. Natural predators for the massasauga, particularly the eggs and young, include hawks, skunks, raccoons, and foxes (Vogt 1981). 1986. The eastern massasauga is primarily associated with wetland habitats but some populations also utilize adjacent upland habitats for parts of its life history. Michigan is one of a few states that has a significant wolf population, but all of the roughly 630 animals in the state were believed to be residing in the Upper Peninsula. Durbian, F. E., R. S. King, T. Crabill, H. Lambert-Doherty, and R. A. Seigel. I was super excited to have a close encounter with an endangered animal.”. The University of Michigan Press, Ann Arbor, MI. The Great Basin Rattlesnake can be found in almost the entirety of Nevada except for the Southern tip of the State. The following ISS sightings are possible from Wednesday Jan 13, 2021 through Friday Jan 29, 2021. 136 pp. Michigan's only venomous snake is a rare sight for most state residents. Community Rules apply to all content you upload or otherwise submit to this site. 2005. Fish and Wildlife Service, Green Bay, WI. The eastern massasauga rattlesnake (Sistrurus catenatus catenatus) is a unique and fascinating part of Michigan's natural heritage. Beltz, E. 1992. Legge, J. T. 1996. Massasaugas also appear to exhibit seasonal shifts in habitat utilization. Michigan DNR Eastern Massasauga Rattlesnake 60-Second Snakes Video; Life History & Michigan History. Anyone who is bitten should seek professional medical attention. These small rattlesnakes are shy and reclusive, and are seldom seen This snake is seen so seldom that there is much that most state residents do not know about these pit vipers. The Michigan Department of Natural Resources has had difficulty monitoring this one due to its elusive nature. Also, massasaugas are highly cryptic and difficult to observe in its natural habitat. To report sightings and learn more about the massasauga, please visit the Michigan DNR’s page on the species at Eastern massasauga. 1994. Individuals may spend up to several weeks in the wetlands near their hibernation sites before moving to their summer habitats (Johnson 1995). of Zool., Michigan State Univ., E. Lansing, MI. This snake doesn't get very big, only about 10 to 20 inches in length, but it is easy to identify it when it is seen. 1966, confirmed massasauga sightings within the park’s vicinity have been rare and no confirmed sightings were made within the official boundary of the park. A. The snakes face a lot of threats though, including a recently discovered fungal disease. U.S. Geological Survey, Porter, IN, for National Park Service Great Lakes Inventory and Monitoring … Spatial ecology, habitat preference, and habitat management of the eastern massasauga, Sistrurus c. catenatus, in a New York weakly-minerotrophic peatland. It is Michigan's only venomous snake, and one of only two rattlesnake species that occur in the Great Lakes region. MSU is an affirmative-action, equal-opportunity employer. Female massasaugas reach sexual maturity at three or four years of age, after which they have been reported to reproduce both annually and biennially in different parts of their range (Reinert 1981, Seigel 1986, Harding 1997). The snakes are often found in open wetlands without many trees or shrubs nearby and they primarily exist in Ontario, Canada and Michigan’s Lower Peninsula. Although the temperaments of individual snakes vary widely, this species is generally considered non-aggressive. Two Michigan residents were bitten by a rare rattlesnake in one month, an incident the Department of Natural Resources says is unusual. Thus, the eastern massasauga's long-term viability in Michigan has important implications for this species' persistence rangewide. They’ve gone kayak fishing in the Florida Keys in the past, where Jonathan caught a 7- to 9-foot, 200-pound lemon shark. Status assessment for the eastern massasauga (Sistrurus c. catenatus). Spring emergence typically starts in late March and early April as groundwater levels rise and ground temperature approaches air temperature (Harding 1997, Szymanski 1998). This timid species is extremely reclusive and avoids humans as best it can, preferring to remain camouflaged or leave the area … Michigan's lone venomous snake, the eastern massasauga rattlesnake, has received federal protection as a threatened species under the Endangered Species Act, the U.S. Roy Horn died in May of 2020 due to complications from Covid-19. They sound their rattle when alarmed but will occasionally strike without rattling when surprised. Eastern Massasauga Rattlesnake: A massasauga rattlesnake is a small snake with a thick body that can grow in length up to 2 feet! Massasauga home range patterns in the Midwest. In general, structural characteristics of a site appear to be more important than vegetative characteristics for determining habitat suitability (Beltz 1992). Massasaugas spend most of the time in the spring basking on elevated sites such as sedge and grass hummocks, muskrat and beaver lodges, or dikes and other embankments. 1999. 40 pp. J. of Wildl. 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 (Hallock 1990, Harding 1997). “It was a pretty adventurous day.”. TOLEDO BLADE (Michigan) 07 April 03 Michigan seeks reports of rattlesnake sightings Lansing: The Michigan Department of Natural Re|sources asks residents to report all eastern massasauga rattlesnake observations in Michigan as part of a multi-state effort in cooperation with the U.S. Date Visible Max Height Appears Disappears Share Event; Sun Jan 17, 7:38 PM: 1 min: 21° 10° above SSW: 21° above S : Mon Jan 18, 6:51 PM: 3 min: 21° 10° … Snakes emerge from their hibernacula in early spring when air temperatures exceed soil temperatures. Here's a look at every snake that calls Michigan home. Eastern Massasauga Rattlesnake, photo by Jonathan Schechter/Earth’s Almanac. 16: 162-171. Harding, J. H. 1997. The Hothams floated with the snake for 10 to 15 minutes and it slithered off once they reached the weedy edge of the lake, Jonathan said. Final report on the status and distribution of the eastern massasauga rattlesnake (Sistrurus catenatus catenatus) in Michigan. 105: 393-395. Sharks are common, big fish are common, but seeing an endangered animal – it’s definitely the rarest sight we’ve seen,” Jonathan said. Although it's venomous, the massasauga is a timid snake. “I was excited.”. The Michigan DNR has confirmed the first ever sighting of a cougar in Michigan's Lower Peninsula. He decided not to touch it. They say that Massasaugas are found throughout the Lower Peninsula, but not in the Upper Peninsula and that they are becoming rare in many parts of their former range, due to wetland habitat loss and persecution by humans. Stick: Tom Goniea, a fisheries biologist and herptile expert with the Michigan Department … Instead, he let the snake out onto his paddle and Jessica took pictures. 205 pp. This is about the time of year sightings of Michigan’s only venomous snake start rolling in.