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Vegetation and leaf litter are suitable cover, while rock crevices can provide more
stable shelter from the elements.

Snake in sheltered area.

Snakes demonstrate a preference for specific basking locations, where they increase their body temperature. At certain times of the year, they will often frequent the same area. A snake may move over large distances to find these important and preferred habitats. A snake will use an arrangement of different habitats as it moves about its home range seeking new sources of food or mates.

Snakes have a “thermal maximum,” or a body temperature they should not exceed. If the snake is unable to cool down, a loss of motor-skills or even death may occur.


Males involved in ritualized combat. These
disputes end with the strongest or biggest
snake mating the female.


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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