Don't approach them, don't kill them, respect them and enjoy them from a distance. You are on their turf. Sistrurus catenatus (the binomial, scientific name for the Eastern Massasauga Rattlesnake) is a species at risk.
The word/adjective catenatus (Latin) is the perfect passive participle of catēnō (verb) referring to being chained or shackled. In English a descendent of catenatus in Latin means chained or chain-like and refers to the central row of dark spots on the body. Massasauga is from the Ojibwa language and means "great river-mouth" which alludes to the marshy habitat of the snake.
In August 2009 a group of us were hiking for four days on the Bruce Trail on the Bruce Peninsula. During those days we saw three adults and two youngsters. The picture below was taken on one of those days. In every case the snakes felt us coming and gave us the familiar warning but this does not always happen. Being a hike leader with some experience and having owned a cottage on the Bruce Peninsula for a few years I was familiar with this interesting animal ... watch the animal but stay a good distance away from it!
If anyone is bitten by an Eastern Massasauga Rattlesnake, treat it like a medical emergency. There is a section on this topic, including what to do, on the
Georgian Bay Islands National Park of Canada web page. I have included a couple of Youtube videos below. I do not condone most of the behaviour in the second amateur video but it does provide some good audio of the snake rattle sound ... remember, keep your distance if you encounter one and give the snake a path to escape. More information about the Eastern Massasauga Rattlesnake at:
Georgian Bay Islands National Park of Canada | Eastern Massasauga Recovery Team | Grey Bruce Health Unit and the Eastern Massasauga Rattlesnake | Toronto Zoo
The Eastern massasauga rattlesnake is a threatened species in Ontario. The Toronto Zoo is actively involved in its conservation. On April 18, 2009, a workshop was organized and presented by Bob Johnson and Andrew Lentini. If clicking the YouTube frame below does not start the video clcik this web address > https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xit3Fz7Y3qY
Links to more pictures:
Snowstools | A "Pileated" White Pine | Red Trillium Variant at Huron Natural Area | Snowshoe at rare Charitable Research Reserve 2014 | A Story of Two Amulrees & The Highland Clearances | The Swamp Crew | Tynemouth Hooligans | "Wild Turkeys" | Hackberry | Turk's-cap Lily | Snowshoeing at Petersburg Tract 2015 | Niagara Glen > back to Pictures or Home.