Water Snakes in Illinois?

The photo gallery at the bottom of the page provides information about many of the snakes found in Illinois. Additionally, the Prairie Research Institutes Illinois Natural History Survey has an Identification Key to help people figure out what species of snake they have found. If you dont know what the species is, click on the text to work through the key. If you see a photo that looks like the species you saw, then you can click on the photo to get information about that particular species.

The eastern foxsnake ( Pantherophis vulpinus ) is sometimes confused with the similarly looking massasauga ( Sistrurus catenatus ). In Illinois, it is found no farther north than Carbondale, in the southern part of the state.

Both nonvenomous and venomous snakes benefit homeowners and gardeners by eating invertebrates and rodents. Snake venom may cause tissue or nerve damage to humans, but a snake bite is usually not fatal to humans if proper medical treatment is received. There are only four species of venomous snakes native to Illinois.

If you dont want to come into contact with the snake, you can lay a trash container on its side in front of the snake and gently sweep it into the container. The broom handle should keep you safely beyond the snakes striking distance. Alternatively, the tines of a potato rake or a hoe can be carefully slipped under the center of a snake to quickly lift the snake into a container.

If you have questions about reptiles or amphibians in Illinois, you can contact Scott Ballard, Illinois Department of Natural Resources, Southern Region Endangered and Threatened Recovery Species Specialist/Herpetologist, at [email protected]Illinois.gov or 618-694-3398.

Are Illinois water snakes poisonous?

Only one species of watersnake, the cottonmouth, is venomous. In Illinois, it is found no farther north than Carbondale, in the southern part of the state. Both nonvenomous and venomous snakes benefit homeowners and gardeners by eating invertebrates and rodents.

Are water moccasins found in Illinois?

The four species of venomous snakes in Illinois are the Copperhead, Cottonmouth Water Moccasin, Timber Rattlesnake, and Eastern Massasauga. Three characteristics they share are: … If you encounter a venomous snake in the wild, just LEAVE IT ALONE.

Will a water snake bite you?

Even though water snakes are nonvenomous, they can still bite and are often killed by humans out of fear that they are cottonmouths. There are a few ways you can tell a nonvenomous water snake from a venomous water moccasin, or cottonmouth, according to the University of Florida.

Illinois snakes are a collecton of contradictions. On the one hand, the thirty eight species recorded in the state puts it at the above average range for snake diversity. On the other hand, that diversity is a bit misleading because Illinois also lists populations of eleven species as either threatened or endangered.

Blue Racers, for example are common around the Great Lakes region, including Illinois. Eastern Hognose snakes (Heterodon platirhinos) are fairly common in areas with sandy soils throughout the state.

All Hognose snake species are characterized as having thick bodies that can grow to four feet in length. The five watersnake species add to Illinois snake diversity, but again aggregate numbers can be deceiving. The Northern Watersnake (Nerodia sipedon) in the picture is the most common Illinois species.

The shorter and thicker body of the Water Moccasin can normally be used as field identification clues to distinguish between them. Wildlife officials often recommend that boaters avoid drifting under low hanging branches (their favorite basking places) in order to decrease the possibility that the snakes drop in for a ride. In terms of size, because adults can grow so large, they become a very imposing snake for the average person to cross paths with.

As previously mentioned the Common Gartersnake range extends across the state.Two Ribbonsnake species, the eastern and western are recorded. Eastern Ribbon snakes are few and far between, with small populations in the southeast part of the state. They can easily be identified by the orange stripe down the back and the light patch in front of the eye.

Plains Gartersnake (Thamnophis radix) live in the prairies of the northern half of the state. Space constrains mean all Illinois snakes can not be presented on a single page. They prefer upland forests or river bluffs with limestone or sandstone outcroppings.

Cottonmouths live in swamps and wet bottomlands in southern Illinois, south of Route 13. Eastern massasaugas live in scattered locations within the counties of Madison, Clinton, Piatt, Knox, Warren, Will, Cook, and Lake.

Theres something about the way they move across the water that is incredibly interesting. Whenever I am near a pond, marsh, or other body of water, I make sure to look for any water snakes moving about.

Northern Water Snake (N. s. sipedon): Coloration is pale grey to dark brown with reddish-brown to black bands. Midland Water Snake ( N. s. pleuralis): Typically light gray in color, but some individuals are reddish.

They will release a foul-smelling musk from glands near the base of their tale, flatten their body, and strike the attacker. The Plain-bellied Watersnake can be found near various water sources, including rivers, floodplains, lakes, ponds, and wetlands. This species spends an unusual amount of time on land compared with other water snakes found in Illinois.

They feed on BOTH aquatic and terrestrial prey, including crayfish, fish, salamanders, frogs, and other amphibians. Another unusual feature of this species is that they will sit and wait to ambush their prey, especially on land. These unique water snakes can also produce offspring via parthenogenesis , a form of asexual reproduction in which an embryo develops without fertilization by sperm.

Plain-bellied Watersnakes are eaten by largemouth bass, egrets, hawks, and sometimes other larger snakes. Coloration is drab brown or olive green with two lighter stripes down the sides. Queen Snakes prefer moving water and are generally found near streams and rivers with rocky bottoms.

They have highly permeable skin, making them susceptible to evaporative water loss. They are primarily diurnal and can be spotted basking on rocks, overhanging branches, or vegetation near the waters edge. They almost exclusively prey on newly molted crayfish, which have soft bodies and cant use their pinchers yet.

Unlike other water snakes found in Illinois, they dont typically bite. Most individuals are dark gray to black with a broad head, heat-sensing pits between the eyes and nostrils, elliptical pupils, and a blunt snout. Be on the lookout for these water snakes near swamps, marshes, ponds, and slow-moving streams and rivers, as well as flooded fields and drainage ditches.

Since Northern Cottonmouths are typically near water, the bulk of their diet is made up of fish and frogs . These water snakes have several defensive tactics to warn potential threats to stay away! They often vibrate their tail in the leaf litter, pull their heads up and back, and then open their mouth to hiss and expose a white interior.

They generally prefer slow-moving bodies of water with overhanging vegetation such as ponds and swamps and slow rivers and streams. These water snakes are common in their range and can be spotted on overhanging branches looking for prey, which mainly include frogs and fish. Credit: U.S. Geological Survey, Department of the Interior/USGS When disturbed, Diamond-backed Watersnakes will quickly flee into the water and dive below the surface to swim away.

Look for Grahams Crayfish Snakes in slow-moving bodies of water such as ponds, prairie streams, marshes, and roadside ditches. They prefer areas with abundant vegetation, rocks, logs, and other debris along the waters edge, which allows them to hide from predators.

Phillips, C. A., R. A. Brandon, and E. O. Moll. 1999. Field guide to amphibians and reptiles of Illinois. Illinois Natural History Survey, Urbana, Illinois. Manual 8:1-300.

The skeletal and muscular systems, along with the platelike scutes on the belly, work together to allow a snake to move swiftly, pushing off of surface irregularities in the places it crawls. At this time, the body produces a milky-blue fluid that separates the two layers of skin, which causes the clear scales over the eyes to become milky in appearance and the overall color of the snake to be drab.

Identification

The photo gallery at the bottom of the page provides information about many of the snakes found in Illinois. Additionally, the Prairie Research Institute’s Illinois Natural History Survey has an Identification Key to help people figure out what species of snake they have found. If you don’t know what the species is, click on the text to work through the key. If you see a photo that looks like the species you saw, then you can click on the photo to get information about that particular species.You can find more information about snakes in Illinois here: SNAKES OF ILLINOIS-2019

Nonvenomous Snakes

Several of the nonvenomous snake species are commonly misidentified as one of the four venomous species found in Illinois. Since a number of species of snakes vibrate their tails when they feel threatened, people sometimes mistakenly confuse them for rattlesnakes. The eastern foxsnake (“Water moccasin” is a general term used by the public to refer to all seven species of Illinoiswater snakes. Only one species of watersnake, the cottonmouth, is venomous. In Illinois, it is found no farther north than Carbondale, in the southern part of the state.Both nonvenomous and venomous snakes benefit homeowners and gardeners by eating invertebrates and rodents. They should be left alone so they can provide this important pest service.

Venomous Snakes

Venomous snakes use their venom to kill birds and small mammals that they eat. Snake venom may cause tissue or nerve damage to humans, but a snake bite is usually not fatal to humans if proper medical treatment is received.There are only four species of venomous snakes native to Illinois. The massasauga is listed as state endangered. The timber rattlesnake is listed as state threatened. The cottonmouth is found only in southern Illinois, and the copperhead is found in the southern two-thirds of the state.

Racers and Whipsnakes

Growing up to eight feet long, the Coluber genus of snakes called Coachwhip snakes, or whipsnakes, get their name from their long, whip like appearance. Snake taxonomy changes.Black Racer (Coluber constrictor) is the general name for one of the most widespread of all the snakes native to the United States.In fact eleven different subspecies inhabit almost every state in the lower 48 states. Color is a common name applied to many of the species as well as the Black Racer. Blue Racers, for example are common around the Great Lakes region, including Illinois.

Hog-nosed Snakes

Eastern Hognose snakes (Heterodon platirhinos) are fairly common in areas with sandy soils throughout the state. All Hognose snake species are characterized as having thick bodies that can grow to four feet in length. As the name suggests, a turned up nose is a defining physical feature.

Kingsnakes and Milk Snakes

Three kingsnake species live in Illinois. Two subspecies of the Eastern Milk Snakes (Lampropeltis triangulum), the Black Kingsnake and the Yellow-bellied Kingsnake. Both the Black and Yellow-bellied species live in the southern half of the state. They Yellow-bellied kingsnake is more common.

Watersnakes

The five watersnake species add to Illinois snake diversity, but again aggregate numbers can be deceiving. The Mississippi Green Watersnake and the Southern Watersnake, for example, live in only one or two counties along the southern Mississippi River. Diamonback Watersnake habitat extends up the Mississippi along the western Illinois border.Plain-bellied Watersnakes are fairly common in the ponds and swamps in the south. The Northern Watersnake (Nerodia sipedon) in the picture is the most common Illinois species.Physically, water snake bodies grow anywhere from three to six feet in length. Their dark, often blotched skin, helps them blend into their environment.The venomous Water Moccasin shares a similar habitat and slightly resembles a few water snake species. The shorter and thicker body of the Water Moccasin can normally be used as field identification clues to distinguish between them.While Water Snake species are not venomous, many species are known to be ill tempered, and quick to bite when startled. Wildlife officials often recommend that boaters avoid drifting under low hanging branches (their favorite basking places) in order to decrease the possibility that the snakes drop in for a ride.

Rat Snakes

The three species of ratsnakes have a decidedly regional basis. Eastern Foxsnakes are widespread in the north.Gray ratsnakes are widespread in the south. Like other rat snakes, they grow to be very large, over six feet in length. The common name gray is really a very generic gray. They varies in color with some populations having light gray and others having dark gray bodies. Their bodies also have a pattern.In terms of size, because adults can grow so large, they become a very imposing snake for the average person to cross paths with. As a result of an encounter, many homeowners inquire into snake control measures when they see these large snakes.First and foremost, most large rat snakes are as afraid of people as people are afraid of them. In residential areas, they are basically only passing through. There is never a sufficient amount of rodents or other food sources for them.The picture shows a Great Plains Ratsnake. They are another of the southern Mississippi river snakes, found only in a few counties. The distinct blotches on the body make them easy to identify.

Illinois Garter Snakes

The list of Illinois snakes includes four gartersnake species. As previously mentioned the Common Gartersnake range extends across the state.Two Ribbonsnake species, the eastern and western are recorded. Eastern Ribbon snakes are few and far between, with small populations in the southeast part of the state. Western Ribbonsnakes have a wider range. They can easily be identified by the orange stripe down the back and the light patch in front of the eye.Plains Gartersnake (Thamnophis radix) live in the prairies of the northern half of the state.