Eastern Fox Snake

Scientific Name: Pantherophis gloydi
Size:
Status: Uncommon or rare in many areas. Michigan State Status: Threatened; MDNR Wildlife Action Plan Status: Species of Greatest Conservation Need

Habitat:
Occupies Great Lakes shoreline marshes and dunes and beaches with some vegetation. Sometimes found in farm fields, pastures, and wooded areas near shore.

Adult Coloration:
Yellowish or light brown with a row of dark brown blotches down the center of the back alternating with smaller dark blotches on the sides. Head can be light brown to coppery reddish brown, and usually there is a dark stripe between the eyes, another from the bottom of the eye to the mouth, and another from the back of the eye to the corner of the mouth. Belly yellowish with irregular rows of dark square markings.

Adult Characteristics:
A robust snake with a short pointed tail, upper body scales weakly keeled, and divided anal plate.

Juvenile Characteristics:
Juveniles paler than adults with more conspicuous head markings and gray or brown blotches edged in black down the back. Range in length from 10.2 – 12.2” at hatching.

Scale Count:
23 – 25 scale rows at midbody

Species Confused With:
Although they look very similar, Eastern Milk Snakes have smooth scales and an undivided anal plate. Racers also have smooth scales and lack a slanting bar from the eye to the corner of the mouth. Black Rat Snakes, which have similar coloration as juveniles, have 221 or more ventral scutes (while fox snakes have 216 or fewer). Western Fox Snakes are only distinguishable by their fewer, smaller dorsal blotches, but fortunately the range of the two species of Fox Snakes do not overlap.

Adult Gallery:
Juvenile Gallery:

References:

  • Amphibians and Reptiles of the Great Lakes Region by Jim Harding
  • Harding, J.H. and J.A. Holman. 2006. Michigan Snakes. MSU Extension Ext. Bulletin E-2000,74 pp. [revised].
  • Ruthven, A. G., H. B. T. Gaige, et al. 1912. The herpetology of Michigan, by Alexander B. Ruthven. Crystal Thompson and Helen Thompson; Memoranda towards a bibliography of the archaeology of Michigan, by Harlan I. Smith; prepared under the direction of Alexander G. Ruthven. Lansing, Mich., Wynkoop Hallenbeck Crawford, State Printers.
  • Holman, J. A. 2012. The Amphibians and Reptiles of Michigan: A Quaternary and Recent Faunal Adventure. Detroit, Mich., Wayne State University Press.
  • Conant, R., and Collins, J. T. 1998. Reptiles and Amphibians: Eastern, Central North America. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Press.

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