Eastern Foxsnake – Carolinian population
(Pantherophis gloydi, formerly Elaphe gloydi)
Status in Canada: Endangered
Status in Ontario: Endangered
Status at SWCR: Uncommon
They have a recognizable pattern of dark splotches over a light yellow-brown background, and are often mistaken for rattlesnakes, although they are non-venomous and harmless to humans.
- It is Ontario’s second largest snake, after the Eastern Ratsnake: It can grow up to 1.75m long!
- It uses a range of habitats, mostly non-forested areas near wetlands, including old fields, marshes, sandy shoreline, and dunes.
- It is a good swimmer: Eastern foxsnakes can swim between islands and have been recorded swimming as far as 2km!
- It reproduces very slowly: females take a long time to mature, and then only breed every two years.
Threats at the St. Williams Conservation Reserve:
Habitat loss/degradation: Housing and agriculture developments have drained wetlands, developed shorelines, and degraded habitats nearby.
Human-induced mortality: They are often mistaken for rattlesnakes and hurt, killed, or collected. They are also at a high risk of being hit by mowers, boats, cars and other vehicles as they move between their many hunting and nesting grounds.
Activities that can harm Eastern Foxsnake and its critical habitat include:
- Activities that change the water regime in wetlands and riparian areas.
- Activities that degrade open habitats and increase canopy closure: Natural succession; excessive deer browsing; Off-trail recreational uses that trample vegetation and erode soils.
- Poorly timed restoration activities that can damage habitat during critical periods of the snake’s life cycle.
- Direct persecution and removal from habitat such as intentional killing, or illegal collecting.
- Off-trail recreational activities that can unintentionally harm individuals, or remove them from their habitat, such as trampling, crushing under vehicles.
St. Williams Conservation Reserve management practices:
- Population monitoring
- Forest thinning activities
- Enforcement of unauthorized trail use
- Prescribed burns
What you can do to help:
- Follow the code of conduct for recreational activities in the Conservation Reserve and know and respect the current trail-use regulations.
- Report sightings to the SWCR CC, or the Natural Heritage Information Centre.
- Report unauthorized trail use or any illegal activity related to plants and wildlife to 1-877-TIPS-MNR (847-7667).