Species At Risk

Eastern Foxsnake

(Pantherophis gloydi)

Endangered (Carolinian population)
Threatened (Georgian Bay population)

Eastern Foxsnake

Description

The Eastern Foxsnake is one of Ontario’s largest snakes, reaching over 1.7 metres in length. This beautiful snake usually has a shiny, rusty orange head and a golden to light brown body with dark blotches. The belly is light yellow and black.

Action we are taking:

Range

The Eastern Foxsnake is only found in Ontario, Michigan and Ohio. Ontario contains 70 per cent of their range in two distinct populations: the Carolinian population in southwestern Ontario and the eastern Georgian Bay population.

Habitat

Eastern Foxsnakes in the Carolinian population are usually found in old fields, marshes, along hedgerows, drainage canals and shorelines. Females lay their eggs in rotting logs, manure or compost piles, which naturally incubate the eggs until they hatch.

Individuals from the Georgian Bay population are usually found within 150 metres of the shore in rocky habitats spotted with trees and shrubs.

During the winter, Eastern Foxsnakes hibernate in groups in deep cracks in the bedrock and in some man-made structures.

Threats

The greatest threats to the Eastern Foxsnake are habitat loss and fragmentation (when habitat is broken into smaller segments) due to shoreline development and draining wetlands. Sadly, some snakes are also hit by cars and deliberately killed by humans. Illegal collecting can also harm populations of this snake.

Protection

The Eastern Foxsnake and its habitat are protected under Ontario’s Endangered Species Act.

What You Can Do to Help the Eastern Foxsnake

  • The Ministry of Natural Resources tracks species at risk such as the Eastern Foxsnake. The Ontario Reptile and Amphibian Atlas collects observations of all Ontario reptiles and amphibians. Submit your observations to either of these databases at nhic.mnr.gov.on.ca/species/species_report.cfm and www.ontarionature.org/atlas. Photographs are important to help confirm the identification of species and are always helpful.
  • Appreciate snakes and don’t harm them. Keep the danger of snakes in perspective: All of Ontario’s snakes are non-venomous, except for the very rare and shy Massasauga Rattlesnake.
  • Report any illegal activity related to plants and wildlife to 1-877-TIPS-MNR (847-7667).
  • You can help improve Eastern Foxsnake habitat by keeping your property as natural as possible. Leave brush piles and logs to decay where they lie.
  • Never buy snakes that have been caught in the wild, and never buy a native species of any kind that’s being sold as a pet.
  • Every year, snakes all over the province must cross busy roads. Watch for snakes on the road, especially between May and October.
  • Volunteer with a local nature club or provincial park to participate in surveys or stewardship work focused on species at risk.
  • Private land owners have an important role to play in species recovery . You may be eligible for stewardship programs that support the protection and recovery of species at risk and their habitats.
  • Visit the Toronto Zoo Adopt-a-Pond website to learn more about Ontario’s rare snakes, their habitat and related conservation initiatives. www.torontozoo.com/Adoptapond
  • There is a program geared to eligible farms registered under the Canada-Ontario Environmental Farm Plan to encourage greater protection and conservation of habitat for species at risk. For more information, visit: www.omafra.gov.on.ca/english/environment/efp/efp.htm.
  • Register with the Herpetofaunal Atlas program to receive e-mail newsletters, event notifications, and other important updates about the Herpetofaunal Atlas project as it develops. Visit their website to see how you can participate and learn more about Ontario’s reptiles and amphibians. (www.ontarionature.org/herpetofaunal_atlas.html).

Did you know?

If frightened, the harmless Eastern Foxsnake will mimic a rattlesnake by vibrating the tip of its tail in leaf litter to produce a buzzing noise. Don’t be fooled. The Massasauga has a real ‘rattle’ at the end of its tail, a darker background body colour (brown-grey), and a short thick body compared to the long and slender foxsnake.

Did you know?

The Eastern Foxsnake is a constrictor and suffocates prey such as larger rodents with the coils of its body. They also eat baby birds, eggs and frogs.

Did you know?

Eastern Foxsnakes are excellent swimmers! You can distinguish the Eastern Foxsnake from a watersnake at a distance because the Foxsnake swims on the surface of the water, floating like a pool noodle, while a watersnake swims with only its head above the surface.


The Endangered Species Act


Contact your local ministry office


Often the best source of local information on species at risk is your nearest ministry office. Call with your questions or concerns.