The History Of The Massasauga Rattlesnake

The Massasauga is a rattlesnake that is found in and around certain areas in the US and Canada and unfortunately, the image that one has of this snake is rather chilling.

It is one of two poisonous snakes in the Wisconsin area and as such, has been hunted down indiscriminately till its numbers dwindled. Now, thanks to measures that have been taken by concerned animal activists, their numbers have risen a bit but are no way near what they should be. With so many wetlands in Wisconsin having been dredged in the last few decades, much of their natural habitat is no more and this is another reason there are so few of them there today.

When the word ‘rattlesnake’ is mentioned, most people tend to imagine a very poisonous snake, fangs bared, coming after you the moment it senses your presence in order to attack you and leave you to die. The movies have a lot to blame for this because that’s what a lot of westerns showed the rattlesnake as doing. It is a word that fills men’s hearts with fear. With fear comes the need to go put and exterminate without thinking and so it was in Wisconsin. Till the mid-seventies, there was a price on the Massasauga’s head – or to be more precise, its tail. Hunters were paid $5 for every Massasauga tail they brought in. Then in ’75, this was changed and the snake was placed on the list of endangered species.

Since the killing of the Massasauga went on unchecked for ages, one cannot hope to get the numbers back up very soon. One hopes that the new laws and with people getting more aware about the need to protect the environment and everything in it, the Massasauga too will get back to its days of glory. Like so many other species, this one too has borne the brunt of man’s ignorance and his callousness. It is only after its numbers had become woefully small that it has been put on the endangered species list. If the trend had gone on unchecked, the Massasauga could quite possible have become extinct and that would have been a sorry tale indeed!