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Poisonous animals
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Sistrurus spp., Pygmy rattlesnake and Massasauga

Clinical entries


  • 1. Sistrurus catenatus
  • 2. Sistrurus miliarius
  • 3. Sistrurus tergeminus


The former species Sistrurus ravus is now included in the genus Crotalus (Campbell and Lamar 2004).


Sistrurus tergeminus formerly decribed as subspecies of Sistrurus catenatus.


Serpentes; Viperidae; Crotalinae

Common names

Pygmy rattlesnake and Massasauga, Zwergklapperschlangen

  • 1. Massasauga
  • 2. Pygmy rattlesnake
  • 3. Desert Massasauga, Western Massasauga


USA and Northern Mexico. See link "Distribution" at the top of the page for detailed information.


  Map 64 Sistrurus spp. under the old classification, including Sistrurus ravus (now = Crotalus ravus) from southern Mexico.



Appearance as for the rattlesnakes (Crotalus spp.), but with a length of under 1 m they are smaller on average. They also have a rattle on the end of their tail, but it is much smaller. In contrast to Crotalus spp., which, with the exception of the supraciliary shields, only have small scales on their head, Pygmy rattlesnakes have several large shields on the top of their head. Colouring in brown or grey shades with darker, larger blotches.

S. miliarius prefers dry habitats, while S. catenatus prefers damper habitats. Defensive behaviour similar to that of Crotalus spp.


Rarely systemic effects of the venom. Envenoming generally less dangerous than with Crotalus sp. and Agkistrodon piscivorus, which in the USA are found over large areas in the same regions.

Literature (biological)

Campbell and Lamar 1989, 2004, Minton et al. 1965, Minton and Rutherford-Minton 1969, Klauber 1972

The Reptile Database