Massasauga Facts

Massasauga Facts
Massasauga is venomous snake that belongs to the group of pit vipers. There are three subspecies of massasauga that can be found in the eastern and western parts of the USA. Massasauga inhabits swamps, wet prairies, grasslands and areas near the rivers and lakes. Number of massasaugas decreased drastically in the past couple of decades due to accelerated habitat loss (draining of the wetlands) and intentional killing. Massasaugas are listed as threatened or endangered in the most countries of their range.
Interesting Massasauga Facts:
Massasauga can reach 24 to 30 inches in length.
Massasauga has light brown or grey-colored body with large brownish-black blotches on the back and smaller blotches on the lateral sides of the body. Yellow or white spots can be seen on the black belly. Tail is covered with dark brown rings and it ends with yellow-grey rattle composed of loosely connected keloid segments.
Massasauga has small, heart-shaped head, thick body covered with keeled scales and vertical pupils. It has pair of large, hollow fangs in the front part of the mouth.
Adult massasaugas are crepuscular (active during the twilight) or nocturnal (active during the night). Juveniles are mostly active during the day (diurnal). When they are not active, massasaugas hide under the stones and logs.
Massasauga is an ambush predator (it hunts using the element of surprise). It has heat-sensing pits near the eyes which facilitate detection of warm-blooded creatures. Massasauga also has excellent eye sight and sense of smell and ability to find the prey by sensing the vibrations of the ground.
Massasauga is a carnivore (meat-eater). Its diet is based on birds, rodents (such as mice and voles), small snakes, lizards and frogs.
Massasauga strongly vibrates its tail to produce rattling sound when it is threatened. Most predators respond to this "threat" by retreating.
Natural enemies of massasauga are herons, eagles, owls, cranes, hawks and snakes.
Massasauga is shy snake that will rather escape than choose to fight against predators. It rarely encounters humans in the wild and it attacks only in self-defense (when it is cornered).
Even though massasauga produces strong venom, bites are rarely fatal for humans thanks to small quantity of delivered venom.
Venom of massasauga contains chemicals that can be useful in treatment of arthritis, multiple sclerosis, polio, strokes and heart attacks.
Massasauga hibernates in the crayfish burrows, abandoned mammalian burrows or under the logs during the winter.
Mating season of massasaugas takes place during the spring.
Pregnancy in females lasts 2 to 4 months and ends with 5 to 19 babies. Females give birth to live babies usually during the summer or early fall. Massasaugas produce offspring once per year or every other year.
Massasauga can survive more than 18 years in the wild.

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