Eastern Foxsnake

Fox Snake

Elaphe gloydi

Status:

  • COSEWIC – Endangered.
  • COSSARO – Threatened.

Description:

  • Adult body length reaches 80 to 140cm (31 to 55 in.).
  • Yellow or orange-brown background colour with dark blotches down back and sides.
  • Belly is patterned like a yellow and black checkerboard.
  • Copper-coloured head with little or no markings.

Habitat:

  • Rocky shores, beaches, and marshes.
  • Generally found within 30 metres of Georgian Bay and unlikely to be found beyond 1km from the Bay.

Food:

  • Young may eat frogs and insects, but adults prefer rodents and bird eggs.
  • Foxsnakes are constrictors.

Eastern Foxsnakes swim on the surface of the water. Photo Credit: Anna Lawson

Habits:

  • Emerge from winter hibernation sites (a frost-free shelter such as mammal burrows or rock crevice) in mid-April.
  • Usually return to hibernation sites by late September.
  • Foxsnakes hibernate communally, sometimes in large numbers.
  • If frightened it will vibrate its tail sounding similar to a rattlesnake. This snake is not venomous and will more likely musk than bite if handled.
  • Can swim long distances.

Reproduction:

  • An average of 14 eggs are laid in late June and July under the protection of a decaying log or shallow burrow.
  • Young hatch in late August or September. They are 23-26cm long, greyish with reddish brown blotches and a dark bar on the head.
  • Females reach maturity in 5 years.

Threats:

  • Habitat loss particularly of important habitat such as hibernation sites, road mortality and direct persecution are the greatest threats to this snake.

Please Note:

  • With its copper coloured head people sometimes mistakenly call this snake a Copperhead, a venomous snake that does not live in Ontario.

Easten Foxsnake Eating an Egg. Photo Credit: Anna Lawson

The Eastern Foxsnake only occurs in 3 areas; approximately 70% of the population is in Ontario and there are remnant populations in northern Ohio and Michigan. It is considered a globally threatened species and its survival will be highly dependent on areas such as eastern Georgian Bay

Conservation Actions:

  • Please report sightings of foxsnakes especially if you notice areas where they are gathering in the fall.
  • Watch out while driving. Far too many foxsnakes are killed along our roadways.

For more information on the Eastern Foxsnake: www.speciesatrisk.gc.ca/search/speciesDetails_e.cfm?SpeciesID=587

For more information in the Parry Sound area:

Ecologist
Georgian Bay Islands National Park
901 Wye Valley Road
Midland, ON
L4R 4K6
705-526-9804

SAR Biologist
Parry Sound OMNR
7 Bay St.
Parry Sound
P2A 1S4
705-746-4201