NNTRC Snakes

Scientific Name

Sistrurus catenatus edwardsii

Common Name 

Desert Massasauga


Physical Characteristics

Length, 16-25 in. (40-64 cm).  The ground color is usually grey or grayish brown.  The dorsal pattern consists of a series of rounded dark brown, grey, or black blotches down the middle of the back.  The head has a series of 9 large scales or plates on the top and there is a dark broad lateral stripe along each side. 

Geographic Range (USA)

Several disjunct populations in the United States (southeastern Arizona, central, southern, and southeastern New Mexico into central western Texas, and south Texas) and small isolated select populations in southern Coahuila and southern Nuevo Léon in Mexico. 
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Inhabits semiarid desert grasslands and prairie.  


Small mammals, amphibians, lizards, and other snakes.


Hemorrhagic toxins, resulting in tissue damage and edema.


The Desert Massasauga is a relatively small and inoffensive snake.  However, they will coil, rattle, and strike quickly when confronted.

This page was last updated on: July 22, 2016