Zoo Animals


Eastern massasauga rattlesnake

Sistrurus catenatus catenatus

At the Detroit Zoo
The Eastern massasauga rattlesnake can be found inside the Holden Reptile Conservation Center, located near the middle of the Detroit Zoo. There, visitors can learn about the 80 different species (and approximately 240 individuals) of reptiles, one-fifth of which are considered threatened or endangered in the wild. Because many individuals fear snakes, it is important to educate the public and correct misconceptions that massasaugas are a dangerous or aggressive species. To that end, the Detroit Zoo has provided information to correct misconceptions about the species for brochures and posters available at nature centers and other locations throughout Michigan, Wisconsin and Ontario.


Michigan’s only true venomous snake, the thick, brown-and-black snake has light gray and brown patches on its back. It has also been characterized as a slow, shy snake.


Fun Facts

  • Although this snake is venomous, its venom is far less potent than other species. But if bitten, medical treatment must be sought immediately.