Sistrurus - from two Latin words: sistrum meaning "a rattle" and oura meaning "tail"

catenatus - from a Latin word meaning chained, describing the pattern on the back

The common name "massasauga" is derived from two Indian words; together they mean "great river mouth". Although all rattle snakes can swim, the eastern massasauga rattlesnake is sometimes known as the swamp rattler and spends more time in aquatic environments than its relatives. These snakes are often seen by roadsides, but are very hard to spot in swamps. In Canada, this is a threatened species.