This is the only venomous snake in Michigan, where it is known as the Michigan rattler.
It is listed in a number of states as an endangered species, although it does not have any designation on the United States federal Endangered Species Act. The two subspecies found in the drier areas of the southwestern United States and northern Mexico are also considered endangered or at risk by some state governments.
In Ontario, the species is found only near the eastern shore of Georgian Bay, the Bruce Peninsula, Wainfleet Bog and Ojibway Prairie. Although it also ranges through several American states this is its only range in Canada. It is becoming rare in Canada due to persecution and loss of habitat and is designated as Threatened by the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada (COSEWIC), as well as the Committee on the Status of Species-at-Risk in Ontario (COSSARO).
S. c. catenatus is rather shy and avoids humans when it can. Most massasauga snakebites in Ontario have occurred after people deliberately handled or accidentally stepped on one of these animals. Both of these scenarios are preventable by avoiding hiking through areas of low visibility (in rattlesnake country) when not wearing shoes and long pants, and by leaving the massasaugas alone when they are found. There are only two recorded incidents of people dying from massasauga rattlesnake bites in Ontario and in both cases they did not receive proper treatment. In at least one of these cases, the victim was a young child.
|Subspecies||Taxon author||Common name||Geographic range|
|S. c. catenatus||(Rafinesque, 1818)||Eastern massasauga||United States: central and western New York south of Lake Ontario, western Pennsylvania, northern and central Ohio, northern Indiana, lower Michigan, Illinois, southern and southwestern Wisconsin, extreme southeastern Minnesota, eastern Iowa and northeastern Missouri. Canada: southern Ontario along the shores of Georgian Bay, Lake Huron and Lake Erie.|
|S. c. edwardsii||(Baird & Girard, 1853)||Desert massasauga||United States: extreme southeastern Arizona, central and southern New Mexico, western Texas about as far north and east as the Colorado River, in the Rio Grande Valley, in many of the Gulf Coast counties about as far north as Brazoria, and on several barrier islands including North Padre Island, Matagorda Island and San José Island. Mexico: isolated populations have been reported in the northeast of the country.|
|S. c. tergeminus||(Say, 1823)||Western massasauga||United States: in the southwestern plains from extreme southeastern Nebraska and northwestern Missouri, southwest through east-central Kansas and west-central Oklahoma into northern and central Texas about as far southwest as the Colorado River.|
The Type Localities of Sistrurus catenatus and Crotalus viridis (Serpentes: Viperidae), with the Unraveling of a Most Unfortunate Tangle of Names
Jun 04, 2008; The broad and imprecise type localities of Crotalinus catenatus Rafinesque, 1818 (now Sistrurus catenatus) and Crotalinus viridis...
Movement and Spatial Dispersion of Sistrurus catenatus and Heterodon platirhinos: Implications for Interactions with Roads
Oct 10, 2011; The ability to predict the effects that new or modified roads will have on species or populations of conservation interest is...
The venom gland transcriptome of the Desert Massasauga Rattlesnake ( Sistrurus catenatus edwardsii ): towards an understanding of venom composition among advanced snakes (Superfamily Colubroidea).(Research article)
Dec 20, 2007; Authors: Susanta Pahari ; Stephen P Mackessy ; R Manjunatha Kini (corresponding author) BackgroundThe advanced snakes...