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The heat sensitive pits between the eyes and the nostrils are unique to
the massasauga. Its vertical, cat-like pupils of the eyes open in dim
light to improve the snake’s night vision.

The typical pattern of the massasauga consists of dark brown blotches
on the back and three rows of alternating blotches on the side over a
grey background.

The belly is black with small white to yellow markings.

Cryptic patterns and colouration serve to break up the shape of
a snake to better disguise it in vegetation, rocks, leaf litter,
and shadows.


Rattlesnakes are born with a single small “button” and not a full rattle. Each time rattlesnakes shed their skin, an additional segment is added to this button. The rattle varies considerably in size and can be damaged or lost completely due to wear and tear. The rattle is a remarkable evolutionary adaptation, allowing the snake to warn others of its presence.

The massasauga can remain undetected
with the help of its pattern,
even at close range.

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