Eastern Fox Snake (Pantherophis gloydi)

Reaching lengths of up to 1.7 metres, the Eastern Foxsnake is the second largest snake found in Ontario, behind only the Gray Ratsnake. Eastern Foxsnakes have a distinct reddish head and a yellowish to light brown body with dark brown blotches running down the back and two alternating rows of blotches on either side. It is often confused with a number of other snakes found in Ontario, such as the Northern Watersnake, Milksnake, Eastern Hog-nosed Snake, and the Eastern Massasauga Rattlesnake, due to similar patterns and colour.

The Eastern Foxsnake typically breeds in April and May, after which the female will lay her eggs in rotting logs and piles of decomposing leaves. The Foxsnake has also been known to use human created piles such as sawdust, woodchip, compost, and manure piles. While a female can lay up to 29 eggs, the average clutch size is 15-20. The Eastern Foxsnake is a proficient swimmer and tree climber, as specimens have been found up to 10 metres above ground. The Eastern Foxsnake’s diet largely consists of small rodents such as voles, and birds.

The Eastern Foxsnake is most often found along or near shorelines from Lake Huron, St. Clair River, Lake St. Clair, the Detroit River and Lake Erie, utilizing prairie, savannah, wetland, and forest edge habitat. This snake is very rare, as 70% of its global distribution occurs within Southern Ontario, where population abundance continues to decline. This decline is largely due to habitat loss, as natural areas have been converted to agricultural fields, areas the Foxsnake typically avoids. The Eastern Foxsnake is found along the North Branch of the Sydenham River, as the mixture of woodlots, grassland, and wetland areas coupled with its close proximity to the Great Lakes and connecting channels make for viable habitat.

 

fox snake

photo courtesy of

fox snake

photo courtesy of Allan Woodliffe