Fox Snake (Elaphe vulpina and Elaphe gloydi)
Description: A large yellowish or light brown snake with dark brown or black blotches down the back and sides. The head may be reddish or orange, and the belly is yellowish, checkered with black. Two species of the fox snake occur in Michigan (see below) but their ranges do not overlap. Adult length: 3 to 5 feet.
Photo © Jim Harding
Habitat and Habits: The Western Fox Snake (Elaphe vulpina) inhabits woods, old fields, and dune areas. The eastern form (Elaphe gloydi) prefers marshes and adjacent wet meadows. Fox snakes feed on rodents, frogs, and birds. When threatened, they may coil, vibrate their tails, and strike, but are non venomous and harmless to humans.
Reproduction: From 7 to 29 eggs are laid in early summer, usually under a log or in humus or rotted wood. The young, colored much like the adults, hatch in about 60 days.
Range and Status: The western fox snake is found in the Upper Peninsula, where it is often called a "pine snake." The eastern fox snake, of the Great Lakes marshes in the southeastern Lower Peninsula, is listed as a THREATENED species by the Michigan DNR and is protected by state law. Their numbers have been reduced by habitat destruction and, locally, by pet trade exploitation.
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