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Free Picture: Desert Massasauga Rattlesnake (Sistrurus catenatus)

Free Picture of Desert Massasauga Rattlesnake (Sistrurus catenatus)

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Picture of a “desert Massasauga” rattlesnake, Sistrurus cantenatus edwardsi, which is distinguished from its western cousin only by its slightly lighter ground color, fewer dorsal blotches, and the lack of gray mottling on the ventral scute. Along the South Texas Gulf Coast, the desert massasauga ranges from the city of Palacios, southward along the coast and its barrier islands, and westward throughout most of the South Texas brush country (Price;Tennant, 1998), placing it in hurricane-prone areas, which is of importance to those living in these regions, and first-responders offering aid to those affected by such a disaster. The name “desert massasauga” is actually misleading, because this species inhabits dry short grass prairie, mesquite/prickly pear savannah, and grass covered sand dune areas over much of its range (Tennant, 1998). The massasaugas are small rattlesnakes that exists as a complex of three distinct subspecies, two of which range into the hurricane-prone geographic regions of concern. Massasaugas are small, gray to tan rattlesnakes with a pattern of round to irregular blotches that extend form the neck to the tail. Being members of the genus Sistrurus, the crown of the head of all three subspecies is covered with 9 large plates similar to those on pygmy rattlesnakes, copperheads and cottonmouths. All three subspecies are superficially similar in appearance and can be distinguished in the field, only by subtle details in their patterns and coloration (Connant, 1975).

This image was provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention/Edward J. Wozniak D.V.M., Ph.D. Joe Forks.

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