The eastern massasauga rattlesnake produces young every two to
three years. Because of the short activity period during which snakes
in Ontario feed (May to September), it may take two to three years
between breeding events for the female snake to store enough fat
energy to support developing embryos. In any given year, two-thirds of
the population may not produce young!
Most eastern massasauga rattlesnakes in Ontario mate from mid-June
to August. The male will use his tongue to pick up and follow the
females scent trail and initiate courting behavior before actual
copulation. Ritualized combat between males may occur, with the victor
mating the female.
The gravid (pregnant) female will stay at a “gestation site” during
part of the summer. This is a “micro-habitat” within the snake’s
habitat. The gestation site grants female rattlesnakes cover and easy
access to a wide range of temperatures in order to incubate the young
developing within their body.
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