The eastern massasauga snake is native to Wisconsin and is named after the Native American term for “great river mouth.” The scientific name of the massasauga is Sistrurus catenatus Some of its characteristics, which set it apart from other snakes, are a blunt tail instead of a pointed one and a narrow head. The snake looks grayish-brown with dark brown or black spots. They can grow up to 15-32 inches long and live in floodplains and wetlands along medium-to-large rivers. Since they are small and similarly colored, they are sometimes confused with the fox snake or the pine snake.
The massasauga snake was thought to have gone extinct in Wisconsin. Though the snake could still be found in other states, no one had seen a single massasauga rattlesnake in Wisconsin for nearly 30 years. Now, it has been spotted five times in the last three years. One of the sightings was in Portage, Wisconsin.
The timber rattlesnake is another snake that also lives in Wisconsin. It is larger and much more common than the massasauga rattlesnake. The official name of the timber rattlesnake is Crotalus horridus. It is a venomous snake in Wisconsin that tends to be shy and a loner. Its coloring varies. It can be pinkish, grayish, yellowish, orangish brown with dark brown or black shaped crossbands all over. It grows up to 36-60 inches long and lives in steep hills, bluffs and valleys of the southwest and western regions near the Wisconsin and Mississippi rivers.
Even though the timber rattlesnake is not endangered, its population is decreasing and it is under the “protected wild animal” program. As for the massasauga, wildlife biologists continue to encourage for its protection as they play an important role in the ecosystem and contribute to the biodiversity in Wisconsin’s lands.
[Sources: Portage Daily Register; wiscnews.com; Madison.com; SSFP Archives]