NNTRC Snakes

Scientific Name

Sistrurus catenatus tergeminus

Common Name 

Western Massasauga


Physical Characteristics

Length, 18-26 in. (46-66 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)

Southwest Iowa and northwest Missouri across Nebraska and western Oklahoma and southward across central Texas.  There is an isolated disjunct population in southeastern Colorado. 
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Inhabits semiarid grasslands and prairie.  


Small mammals, amphibians, lizards, and other snakes.


Hemorrhagic toxins, resulting in tissue damage and edema.


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

This page was last updated on: February 12, 2016