I have a life policy of knowing about snakes, but staying away from places where I might run into the more dangerous ones. There is a little-known rattlesnake in Illinois that tends to be tiny, but don't let the size fool you. They pack a venomous deadly punch for those that cross them.

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This is one species of rattlesnake that I was not familiar with until I saw a collection of 40 snake species in Illinois that was shared by A-Z Animals. Their list included 4 snakes that are venomous and I had not heard of 1 of the them. It's the eastern massasauga. It's a tiny pit viper, but there's plenty of venom in those small fangs.

There's some good news about this small rattlesnake. United States Fish and Wildlife says people are rarely bitten by them because they are extremely shy. I do not plan to test that theory. They also add this helpful tip:

Eastern massasaugas use shallow wetlands and surrounding upland areas to forage, breed, shelter and hibernate.

Note to self: cancel vacation plans in shallow wetlands and surrounding upland areas. Thanks.

The experts say that a bite from one of these rattlesnakes could harm a human being, but it's not quite as bad as a timber rattlesnake which packs more venom. A quick trip to the doctor for some anti-venom should work wonders.

Consider this another viper to keep an eye out for next time you're in the backcountry. Hopefully they'll remain too shy to stop by and say hello.

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