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Canadian Amphibian and Reptile Conservation Network - Réseau Canadien de 
Conservation des Amphibiens et des Reptiles

Pantherophis gloydi,

Couleuvre fauve de l'Est / Eastern Foxsnake

Couleuvre fauve de l'Est

Recently it was decided to split the two subspecies of the Foxsnake into two species based on their differences. Only the Eastern Foxsnake is found in Canada. It is yellow to light brown with dark blotches down the center of its back. There are two alternating rows of smaller blotches along the sides. It commonly grows to 1 m in length and may reach up to 1.8 m.

Confusing Species
There are a number of other boldly blotched snakes in eastern Canada. It may be confused with the Northern Water Snake, Milksnake or the Eastern Hog-nosed Snake. The Water Snake generally does not have bold blotches and the Milksnake has dark rings around its blotches. The Hog-nosed Snake is most similar in appearance, but it has an upturned snout.

In Canada, the Foxsnake is only found in southern Ontario. The entire distribution of the Foxsnake is limited to the Great Lakes area and west to Indiana.

The Foxsnake is limited to the shoreline areas of the Great Lakes in Ontario. Within this area it is found in a variety of habitats from fields and farmland to open forests.

Mating generally occurs in the summer. Females lay up to 29 eggs, although 15-20 is the norm. More than one Foxsnake will lay her eggs in the same spot, under logs or boards. The eggs hatch in 1-2 months depending upon the temperature. Hatchlings are 25-30 cm long.

Natural History
Although less arboreal than other snakes in their genus, Foxsnakes can climb trees and have been found up to 10 m above the ground. They are also good swimmers and have even been observed swimming in the cold water of Georgian Bay. Foxsnakes actively hunt for prey including small mammals and young birds. Foxsnakes rarely bite if disturbed, however, they will vibrate their tail in leaves which may simulate the sound of a rattlesnake. This defensive strategy has frequently back-fired as people kill them out of fear. Foxsnakes hibernate in small or large groups underground in abandoned burrows or even the foundations of old buildings.

Conservation Concerns
Foxsnakes have declined because of persecution from humans. They are also prone to warming themselves on roads at night, which often leads to their death. Their habitat is threatened because of increasing shoreline development along the Great Lakes. They are considered rare to uncommon in Ontario, but are more common in the US. Eastern Foxsnake is designated Threatened in Canada by COSEWIC.