Moving massasaugas: Insight into rattlesnake relocation using sistrurus c. catenatus

  • Published source details Harvey D.S., Lentini A.M., Cedar K. & Weatherhead P.J. (2014) Moving massasaugas: Insight into rattlesnake relocation using sistrurus c. catenatus. Herpetological Conservation and Biology, 9, 67-75.


This study is summarised as evidence for the following.

Action Category

Translocate problem reptiles

Action Link
Reptile Conservation

Release captive-bred reptiles into the wild: Snakes & lizards

Action Link
Reptile Conservation
  1. Translocate problem reptiles

    A randomized, controlled study in 2003 in a temperate forested site in Ontario, Canada (Harvey et al. 2014) found that short-distance translocations did not affect massasauga rattlesnake Sistrurus catenatus catenatus survival.  A similar number of translocated snakes and snakes released at point of capture survived until hibernation (translocated: 4 of 5, 80%; point of capture releases: 8 of 9, 89%). Translocated snakes moved further from their release site after two days (150 m) than snakes released at point of capture (50 m), but distance from release site was similar after 18 days (translocated: 330 m; point of capture: 270 m). No translocated snakes returned to their capture location. Rattlesnakes were captured in July 2003 and translocated either 200 m in a random direction (one female, four males) or released at point of capture (three females, six males). Such short distance translocations are commonly carried out for problem snakes. All snakes were implanted with radio transmitters and relocated every two days for 18 days.

    (Summarised by: Maggie Watson, William Morgan)

  2. Release captive-bred reptiles into the wild: Snakes & lizards

    A replicated study 2006 in a nature reserve within a wider urban setting in Ontario, Canada (Harvey et al. 2014) found that captive born massasauga rattlesnakes Sistrurus catenatus catenatus released into the wild did not survive hibernation. Following release, at least 19 of 27 (70%) of rattlesnakes survived 19 weeks to hibernation (three died from predation, three transmitters failed, one died from human attack, one died from unknown causes). No rattlesnakes survived the hibernation period (10 died from exposure on the surface, four died from predation, four died from unknown causes, one was killed by human attack). In 2003, two gravid female rattlesnakes were rescued from a development site in Windsor, Ontario, Canada and their young raised in captivity. In 2006, the 3-year-old snakes (27 individuals) were implanted with radio transmitters and released into a nature reserve which had a natural population of rattlesnakes until at least the mid-1970s. Snakes were tracked daily for the first two weeks after released and then fortnightly thereafter.

    (Summarised by: Maggie Watson, William Morgan)

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