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Michigan Residents Asked To Respect Local Rattlesnakes

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A massasauga rattlesnake. (credit: istock)

A massasauga rattlesnake. (credit: istock)

ANN ARBOR (AP) – In light of a recent incident at an Ann Arbor botanical garden, Michigan naturalists have asked residents to respect the local rattlesnake population.

A report filed by the University of Michigan Police Department said a young girl was bitten by an Eastern Massasauga Rattlesnake earlier this summer. The child was not wearing shoes, so police don’t know if she stepped on the snake before it bit her leg. She was treated at a local hospital.

Experts from the Michigan Department of Natural Resources and representatives from the gardens told the Ann Arbor News that Eastern Massasauga bites are uncommon.

The species, which they said is usually docile, is one of the smallest and least venomous rattlesnakes in the country.

Lori Sargent, herp atlas project coordinator with the Michigan Department of Natural Resources, said Massasaugas’ short fangs don’t inject venom very deeply into their victims.

The snakes live throughout Michigan where wetlands and hilly areas meet.

Steven Parrish, natural areas specialist with the Matthaei Botanical Gardens and Nichols Arboretum, said the rattlesnakes are native to the Lower Peninsula and have inhabited the gardens for years.

In 2012, the Botanical Gardens received a grant to restore the forest habitat around its creeks and ponds. The staff revived about 350 acres of land by removing invasive shrubs to make the area more habitable for the rattlesnake species.

Parrish said Eastern Massasauga Rattlesnakes are endangered in all nine of the states they thrived in except Michigan, where they remain on the state’s list of species of special concern.

© Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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