With the popularity of our copperhead post last week for Wildlife Wednesday, we wanted to spotlight another one of the three venomous snakes in Ohio – the massasauga.
“Swamp rattler” and “black snapper” are other names given to this small rattlesnake. The name massasauga is from the Chippewa Indian language and refers to the marshy areas associated with the mouth of a river. Massasaugas typically are very sluggish and make little or no attempt to bite unless thoroughly provoked.
The bite is seldom, if ever, fatal to a healthy adult. Although the venom is highly toxic, a typical bite does not deliver large enough quantities to be lethal. This is still a venomous snake, however, and should be treated with utmost caution and respect. Its color varies from gray to brownish gray – and some specimens are almost entirely black. The stout-bodied massasauga can easily be identified by its small but conspicuous rattle.
Historically recorded in more than 30 Ohio counties, the secretive massasauga swamp rattlers are widely scattered and rarely seen. Originally, these rattlers probably inhabited all the scattered prairies of glaciated Ohio, but extensive farming has drastically reduced their numbers. Colonies still persist in bogs, swamps, and wet prairies within glaciated Ohio.
For more info on reptiles in the buckeye state from our Ohio Division of Wildlife, download their Reptiles of Ohio Field Guide here – https://ohiodnr.gov/…/Pub%205354_Reptiles%20of%20Ohio….