Fox snakes are non-venomous colubrid snakes and pose no danger to people, still, they’re needlessly killed by a lot of individuals who confuse them for its venomous massasauga rattlesnake (Sistrurus catenatus) which shares their scope and can be somewhat similar in appearance.
Considering their ranges do not overlap, their habitat preferences will also be different, the western fox snake inhabits forests, forests edges, open forests, prairies, pastures, deserts, fields and farmlands. Even though the fox snake prefers wet meadows and marshes.
The fox snake is primarily active during the afternoon in the spring and autumn but may become active during the night throughout the summer to prevent the daily high temperatures. Nevertheless, although they are terrestrial snakes they are good climbers and swimmers.
The fox snake floor color ranges from gray, yellowish, greenish browntan, covered with larger, dark brown blotches on the back and bigger blotches on either side. Their stomach is usually yellow, marked with a black colour pattern. Their mind may at times be orange in colour, which may cause people to misidentify them because the venomous snake.
Fox snakes are a medium-sized species with an elongated, slender body coated with lightly keeled scales. It could reach 3 to 5 ft (91 to 152 cm) in length, with males being larger than females.
Just like many other harmless non-venomous snakes, fox snakes sometimes vibrate their tails in the ground debris mimicking rattlesnakes.
However this defensive behavior, gets most of them killed by people, when they’re confused for those creatures that are more dangerous.
Fox snakes are usually docile and not competitive snakes however they can still bite when harassed. They also generate a musky odor similar to that of the red fox once handled, hence their common name”fox snake”.
Like most other snake species which live in the northern areas of north america, fox snakes will brumate through wintertime. Appropriate dens used also by fox snakes and other species will be frequently occupied by them. Their predators include coyotes, hawks and foxes.
These snakes were up until recently thought of as subspecies of all Elaphe vulpina, the eastern fox snake (Elaphe vulpina gloydi) along with also the western fox snake (Elaphe vulpina vulpina).
In 2002 scientists considered that North American rat snakes should be separated by the Old World rat snakes belonging to this Elaphe genus, also Pantherophis was resurrected to include them.
This taxonomic change generated much controversy and entailed all other rat snakes such as the black rat snake also known as the western rat snake.
Western Foxsnake (Pantherophis vulpinus – Baird and Girard, 1853) – Found in Michigan, Wisconsin, Illinois, Minnesota, Iowa, northwestern Indiana, Nebraska, Missouri and South Dakota.
Eastern Foxsnake (Pantherophis gloydi – Conant, 1940) – This species has a rather restricted range and is located just in Ontario in Canada and Michigan and Ohio in the united states, near Lakes Huron and Erie.
Considering their ranges do not overlap, their diet is different from one another. Although occasionally they’ll take prey, the eastern fox snake diet is really for the most part written of meadow voles.
Though the the western fox snake feeds on an assortment of small mammals such as rats, mice, chipmunks, even smaller rodents, birds . Occasionally birds or other creatures are eaten by them.
The young fox snakes may also eat insects and frogs. These snakes will usually kill their prey using constriction, but smaller animals might just be eaten without constriction’s usage.
The mating season occurs in the late spring to early summer shortly after the fox snakes emerge from overwintering dens where they brumate. Females lay an average clutch of 8 to 25 snake eggs in mid summer, usually in humus or rotted timber or a under a log.
The eggs generally hatch in early autumn, and the hatchlings are relatively large roughly 1 feet in span. The snakes are very similar in look to mature snakes.
Such as other non-venomous snakes, fox snakes are generally confused for venomous snake species and often indiscriminately killed, when they are actually harmless and beneficial for people.
The eastern fox snake is listed as endangered in the state of Michigan and in the Canadian province of Ontario. The fox snake is considered endangered at the country of Missouri because of wetland prairie and drainage loss.
The major threats to fox snakes have been habitat loss, illegal set and street kill. Even though the fox snake population has been considered stable their population trend is now under study by biologists.
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