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Superregnum: Eukaryota
Regnum: Animalia
Subregnum: Eumetazoa
Cladus: Bilateria
Cladus: Nephrozoa
Superphylum: Deuterostomia
Phylum: Chordata
Cladus: Craniata
Subphylum: Vertebrata
Infraphylum: Gnathostomata
Superclassis: Tetrapoda
Cladus: Reptiliomorpha
Cladus: Amniota
Classis: Reptilia
Cladus: Eureptilia
Cladus: Romeriida
Subclassis: Diapsida
Cladus: Sauria
Infraclassis: Lepidosauromorpha
Superordo: Lepidosauria
Ordo: Squamata
Subordo: Serpentes
Infraordo: Caenophidia
Superfamilia: Viperoidea

Familia: Viperidae
Subfamilia: Crotalinae
Genus: Sistrurus
Species (3): S. catenatus – S. miliarius – S. tergeminus

Sistrurus Garman, 1883: 110

Type genus: Crotalus miliarius Linnaeus, 1766, by subsequent designation.

Primary references

Garman, S. 1883. The reptiles and batrachians of North America. Memoirs of the Museum of Comparative Zoölogy 8(3): xxxiv + 185 pp. BHL

Additional references

Murphy, R.W., Fu, J.-Z., Lathrop, A., Feltham, J.V. & Kovac, V. 2002. Phylogeny of the rattlesnakes (Crotalus and Sistrurus) inferred from sequences of five mitochondrial DNA genes. pp. 69–92 In Schuett, G.W., Hoggren, M., Douglas, M.E. & Greene, H.W. (eds.). Biology of the Vipers. Eagle Mountain Press: Salt Lake City, Utah. ISBN 9780972015400 Reference page.
Hoser, R. 2009. A reclassification of the rattlesnakes; species formerly exclusively placed in the genera Crotalus and Sistrurus. Australasian Journal of Herpetology 6: 1–21. PDF
Kubatko, L.S., Gibbs, H.L. & Bloomquist, E.W. 2011. Inferring Species-Level Phylogenies and Taxonomic Distinctiveness Using Multilocus Data in Sistrurus Rattlesnakes. Systematic Biology 60(4): 393–409. DOI: 10.1093/sysbio/syr011 Open access Reference page.
International Commission on Zoological Nomenclature. 2013. Opinion 2328 (Case 3571). Crotalinus catenatus Rafinesque, 1818 (currently Sistrurus catenatus) and Crotalus tergeminus Say in James, 1822 (currently Sistrurus tergeminus; Reptilia, Serpentes): usage conserved by designation of neotypes for both species. Bulletin of Zoological Nomenclature 70(4): 282–283. DOI: 10.21805/bzn.v70i4.a13 Paywall Reference page.


Uetz, P. & Hallermann, J. 2021. Sistrurus . The Reptile Database. Accessed on 16 July 2020.
Sistrurus – Taxon details on Integrated Taxonomic Information System (ITIS).

Vernacular names
Deutsch: Zwergklapperschlangen
English: Pygmy Rattlesnakes
español: Cascabeles pigmeas
polski: Grzechotniczek

Common names: ground rattlesnakes, pygmy rattlesnakes, massasaugas[2]

Sistrurus is a genus of venomous pit vipers in the subfamily Crotalinae of the family Viperidae. The genus is endemic to Canada, the United States, and Mexico.[1] Its generic name is a Latinized form of the Greek word for "tail rattler" (Σείστρουρος, seistrouros) and shares its root with the ancient Egyptian musical instrument, the sistrum, a type of rattle.[citation needed] Three species are currently recognized.[3]


Sistrurus species differ from the larger rattlesnakes of the genus Crotalus in a number of ways. They are smaller in size, but also their scalation is different: Sistrurus species have nine large head plates (same as Agkistrodon), whereas in Crotalus (and almost all other viperids), the head is mostly covered with a large number of smaller scales. Sistrurus species have a relatively small rattle that produces more of a high-pitched, buzzing sound than does a larger rattle, like that of Crotalus.

Geographic range

Species of Sistrurus are found in Canada, the Western, Southern, and Midwestern United States, and isolated populations in southern and eastern Mexico.[1]

Although bites from Sistrurus species are regarded as less dangerous to humans than those from Crotalus rattlesnakes, primarily due to their lower venom yield, every venomous snake bite should be considered serious, and prompt medical treatment should always be sought.[citation needed]

Image[3] Species[3] Taxon author[3] Subsp.[3] Common name Geographic range[1]
Sistrurus catenatus.jpg S. catenatus (Rafinesque, 1818) 3 massasauga It is found in North America from southeastern Ontario (Canada) and western New York southwest to southeastern Arizona (USA) and northern Tamaulipas (Mexico). In Mexico, isolated population exist in southern Nuevo León and north-central Coahuila. It occurs in various habitats ranging from swamps and marshes to grasslands, usually below 1,500 m (4,900 ft) altitude.
Sistrurus miliarius miliarius rote Zwergklapperschlange.jpg S. miliarius T (Linnaeus, 1766) 3 pygmy rattlesnake In the Southeastern United States from eastern and southern North Carolina southward through peninsular Florida and westward to Oklahoma and East Texas, it occurs in flatwoods, sandhills, mixed forests, and floodplains, and around marshes and lakes.

T) Type species.[1]

McDiarmid RW, Campbell JA, Touré T (1999). Snake Species of the World: A Taxonomic and Geographic Reference, Volume 1. Washington, District of Columbia: Herpetologists' League. 511 pp. ISBN 1-893777-00-6 (series). ISBN 1-893777-01-4 (volume).
Wright AH, Wright AA (1957). Handbook of Snakes of the United States and Canada. Ithaca and London: Comstock Publishing Associates, a Division of Cornell University Press. (7th printing, 1985). 1,105 pp. (in two volumes). ISBN 0-8014-0463-0. (Sistrurus, pp. 1040-1061).

"Sistrurus ". Integrated Taxonomic Information System. Retrieved 4 November 2006.

Further reading

Hubbs, Brian; O'Connor, Brendan (2012). A Guide to the Rattlesnakes and other Venomous Serpents of the United States. Tempe, Arizona: Tricolor Books. 129 pp. ISBN 978-0-9754641-3-7. (Sistrurus, pp. 72-85).
Powell R, Conant R, Collins JT (2016). Peterson Field Guide to Reptiles and Amphibians of Eastern and Central North America, Fourth Edition. Boston and New York: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. xiv + 494 pp., 47 plates, 207 figures. ISBN 978-0-544-12997-9. (Sistrurus, pp. 443-445).


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