After a few minutes of traversing the field slowly, I noticed a large female laid out in the morning sun. Justin came over slowly and was pretty astounded at the snake, this is a big female that I've seen several times and she always is noisy.
The look on Justin's face is worth a thousand words. His mom captured this photo as I lifted the snake to give Justin a better look, it reminds me of how I felt when I saw my first rattlesnake when I was right around his age.
Eastern Massasauga Rattlesnake - Sistrurus catenatus catenatus
This large gravid female harbors right around the 30" range, a very healthy & large specimen for this species. Although she was a bit noisy, she was very relunctant to hold her ground and sit still for photos. Justin's mom and sister decided to come have a look, and were surprised by how docile these snakes are. We hung out with the snake for a little while before parting ways. Shortly after, we headed to another area where I've seen Massasaugas in the past as well. After only a few minutes, I heard a faint buzz and noticed a female coiled in the tall grass nearby. As I was getting my camera gear out, Justin pointed out a pile of 7 or 8 freshly dropped neonates less than a few feet from the female.
Eastern Massasauga Rattlesnakes - Sistrurus catenatus catenatus
This was something I had never seen before until a few days earlier when I saw a very similar scene at a different site, seeing something like this twice in the span of a few days was incredible. Justin was so excited, and I told him how lucky he was to see something that some people who have researched this species haven't even seen. After getting a good look at the mother, it turned out to be a female I saw a few days earlier nearby. Here she is, pre-birthing.
It was quite a morning, and something I won't soon forget. I can imagine that Justin felt the same way. He has way more knowledge than I ever did when I was his age and has an outstanding future ahead of him. These are the type of kids we need to encourage to continue to grow and follow their passions, as they will be our researchers in the future. If you know someone who is interest in wildlife, don't hesitate to expose them to it. People won't want to conserve something of they don't admire it. That's all for now. Until next time, happy herping.