Cute Baby Rattlesnakes!

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Adopt-A-Pond is a big supporter of the preservation of Ontario’s eastern massasauga rattlesnake’s (Sistrurus catenatus) population and their genetic legacy! So it’s no big surprise that we are thrilled the Zoo received a valuable donation of 14 baby massasauga rattlesnakes from a completed research study by Brock University.

These healthy little ones will now join the massasauga Species Survival Plan (SSP), which manages a zoo population that contributes to this species’ genetic and overall population conservation.

A SSP is a collaborative science-based management program of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA). The SSP’s mission is to manage and conserve the populations of threatened or endangered species in zoos,  aquariums and in the wild. SSPs are valuable programs that help wildlife managers, field researchers and conservationist by contributing to research and education on species behavior, reproductive biology, nutrition requirements, health requirements and genetics. Community outreach and education are a big part of SSPs as well!

SSP species are often well-known animals which arouse strong feelings in the public, and what better known animal than the only venomous snake in Ontario!  But don’t be afraid! There has not been a fatality from a massasauga bite in Ontario in over 50 years. Massasaugas are legally protected in Canada, yet sadly, this fear and misunderstanding has caused this species down fall as many massasaugas are persecuted each year. As a result of persecution and road development across their habitat, this species has been extirpated (100% removed) from much of its original range in southwestern Ontario, and now can only be found on the eastern shore of Georgian Bay, the northern Bruce Peninsula, and tiny highly vulnerable populations on the Niagara Peninsula and near Windsor.

The eastern massasauga is currently listed as Threatened under the Ontario Endangered Species Act, 2007 and Threatened under the federal Species at Risk Act, which protects these snakes and their habitat by law.

Adopt-A-Pond knows these little ones will be well taken care of here at the Toronto Zoo as it is an accredited establishment that not only meets basic husbandry and animal care standards, but strives to exceed them! The Toronto Zoo is also a member of the Massasauga Recovery Team, and helps develop and implement workshops and public programs so that thousands of citizens can learn how beneficial these amazing snakes are and why they need to be protected.

Adopt-A-Pond will be helping out too with future plans for the 2015 season to assess rattle snake habitat, create management plans for people with massasaugas on their property, update stewardship resources, and lots of community education!

If you have massasauga snakes on your property and would like FREE educational resources, habitat assessments or workshops please contact us Here!