Following my successful hibernation experiments with Eastern Gartersnakes, I successfully force hibernated neonatal massasaugas for the past two winters increasing winter survival from less than 10% to more than 60%. Natural winter mortality is reduced by placing neonatal snakes in artificial burrows within habitat that does not freeze or flood completely. Surviving massasaugas come back to where they successfully hibernated the previous winter, so we can estimate annual survival overtime. For this reason specific location information is protected.
This was our first test of the forced hibernation technique on neonatal massasaugas. Conditions underground were drier than the past 2 winters due to a prolonged summer drought. After 170 days in an artificial burrow 90 % survived.
This was our second test of the forced hibernation technique. The winter was colder, wetter and 30 days longer than last winter and 60 % survived. Although lower survival than last winter this is still 6 times better than natural survival for neonatal snakes at this site.
This is "Jaymie" although not gravid in 2017, she did give birth in 2015 to 8 neonates.