Columbus Zoo & Baby Rattlesnakes

POWELL, Ohio — The Columbus Zoo and Aquarium is celebrating a conservation milestone with the birth of seven eastern massasauga rattlesnakes on January 20. 

The Columbus Zoo is now just the fifth facility accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums to have successfully bred the subspecies of the massasauga rattlesnakes. 

The eastern massasauga rattlesnake is federally listed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service as threatened under the Endangered Species Act, and listed as endangered by the State of Ohio.

Unlike other species of snakes that lay eggs, massasauga rattlesnakes give birth to live young. Females usually give birth to litters between 5 to 20. 

The zoo said the snakelets are already living apart from their mother in a behind-the-scenes habitat after she guarded them for a couple of days. The zoo said it is normal for the babies to go off on their own that quickly. 

The babies have already reached two major milestones, their first meal and their first shed. 

Young massasaugas are born with a single rattle segment (or “button”) on their tails. Each time they shed their skin, a new segment is added to the rattle while older segments become weak and break off.”

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