Baby Massasauga Rattler, or Milk Snake?

Found in our backyard today.... possibly a Massasauga rattlesnake, Sistrurus catenatus, but far enough from their normal range that he may be just an oddly coloured milk snake Lampropeltis triangulum. And he's just a little guy.

What's particularly odd is that he's out in the open, on the grass. A rather unusual place for a snake that normally prefers cool rocks and the forest floor.




Biologists say: Probably a milk snake

Matthew's picture

After two biologists (both initially convinced he was a rattler) spent three man-hours poring over the photos, we are now reasonably sure that he's a milk snake. Although he shakes his tail when approached, a Massasauga Rattler of this size should be old enough for his tail rattle to be readily visible - and milk snakes (who don't have a visible rattle at any age) have been known to mimic the Massasauga's tail movements. The markings are not nearly as vivid or red as is normal for milk snakes, but there are some photo records of them being this bland. And there's a slight difference in the facial structures (the Massasauga's heat pits) that would put this guy in the milk snake camp.

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