The Climate Community – Eyes out for Ontario’s solely venomous snake: Massasauga rattlesnake

Ontario is dwelling to over a dozen forms of snakes, however solely one among them is venomous – the Japanese massasauga rattlesnake (Sistrurus catenatus).

Based on Tianna Burke with the Georgian Bay Biosphere, a charity group that works to protect wildlife and endangered species, these rattlesnakes have a tendency to maneuver out of hibernation late Could into early June – so in the event you’re on the cottage or on a hike in a wooded space, now’s the time to maintain your eyes out!

Whereas the sound of a venomous snake is alarming, Burke says that these snakes have an introverted persona and usually wish to maintain to themselves. They’ve little interest in interacting with people, and usually while you see snakes on the transfer, they’re simply making an attempt to get from one spot to a different.

“Snakes do not assault individuals, they simply need to be left alone,” explains Burke. “Most snake bites happen as a result of you have not taken precaution to see what’s round you or you might have gone to attempt to hurt it, so it is simply performing in protection”.

The Massasauga Rattlesnake (Credit: Georgian Bay Biosphere).  Link:
A massasauga rattlesnake.

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Yow will discover these snakes primarily alongside the jap facet of Georgian Bay and on the Bruce Peninsula, in response to the Authorities of Ontario. Two small populations are additionally discovered within the Wainfleet Bathroom on the northeast shore of Lake Erie and close to Windsor. The massasauga was as soon as extra widespread in southwestern Ontario, particularly alongside the shores of the Nice Lakes.

The Massasauga Rattlesnake was listed as threatened when the Endangered Species Act took effect in 2008. On June 27, 2014, the population was split into two, with the Great Lakes – St.  Lawrence population listed as threatened, and the Carolinian population listed as endangered.  (Credit: Georgian Bay Biosphere. )
The massasauga rattlesnake was listed as threatened when the Endangered Species Act took impact in 2008. On June 27, 2014, the inhabitants was cut up into two, with the Nice Lakes – St. Lawrence inhabitants listed as threatened, and the Carolinian inhabitants listed as endangered (Picture credit score: Georgian Bay Biosphere).

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Based on Burke, massasauga rattlesnakes can develop to a most of one-metre-long. It is distinguished often by the determine ‘8’ sample on its again, its diamond formed head, cat-like eyes, and naturally, the rattle. The physique is grey to darkish brown with darker brown “butterfly” or “saddle-shaped” blotches down the again, with alternating blotches alongside the edges. When you hear the tail rattle, which means you are too shut – and take a step again.


Whereas it is extremely unlikely to get bit by an unprovoked snake, it is nonetheless essential to know what to do if within the occasion you do get bitten. Medical Director of the Ontario and Nunavut Poison Centre, Dr. Margaret Thompson, says it doesn’t matter what severity of the chunk, it is essential to get it checked out by an expert.

She additionally emphasizes the significance of leaving these critters alone, and never transferring them or choosing them up. The truth is, it is really unlawful in Ontario to maneuver a rattlesnake a couple of kilometer from the place you discovered them.

The Massasauga rattlesnake is Ontario's only venomous snake, though it will only bite in self-defense if it is threatened or harassed. CREDIT: Georgian Bay Biosphere.
The massasauga rattlesnake is Ontario’s solely venomous snake, although it should solely chunk in self-defense whether it is threatened or harassed. (Picture credit score: Georgian Bay Biosphere)

Dr. Thompson provides the very first thing you’ll want to do in the event you get bit is keep calm. The second, is to go to your nearest emergency room.

“If you’re in massasauga habitat, one of the best factor you are able to do to guard your self from any potential websites is to remember if you’re strolling. The most typical locations individuals get bit is across the ankle, often when persons are strolling to and from someplace or are barefoot, and the wrist. The wrist bites are often from dangerous habits and making an attempt to select up and work together with a snake, which you should not be doing. Snakes act based mostly on the way you act.”

To study extra about Ontario’s solely venomous snake, watch the video that leads this text.

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