Photo credit:

Frank Portillo

Common name

Western Massasauga Rattlesnake

Scientific name

Sistrurus tergeminus

Conservation Status

Overall population stable; genetically distinct populations at risk.

Federal and State Protections

Arizona Species of Greatest Conservation Need. Protected in Mexico under NOM-059-ECOL-2001.

Countries of Occurrence

United States of America

States or Providence 

Arizona, Colorado, Iowa, Kansas, Missouri, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Texas


Arizona: Cochise

Adult size

Species Description

This small rattlesnake occurs in the American midwest in wet meadows, marshes, and woodlands. The diet of the western massasauga consists primarily of mammals but also snakes, lizards, birds, and frogs. This rattlesnake is state-threatened in Nebraska and Missouri but is not currently listed as federally threatened. Their mating season is April, May, and briefly after summer. Fun fact: As a juvenile, the western massasauga rattlesnake has a caudal lure on its tail which is a bright greenish-yellow. They more commonly use that lure to attract frogs, not lizards, as prey when they are babies! In contrast, the desert massasauga in the American southwest uses its lure for lizards, not frogs!

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