Table of Contents
Thirty-nine species of snakes inhabit Illinois,
dwelling in forests, grasslands, marshes, swamps, ponds, lakes, streams,
rivers, and sloughs. Some species are quite common, while others are
very rare. These reptiles are solitary predators that eat a variety
of prey. Snakes have interesting structural features including the Jacobon's
organ, which is used to detect odors. They lack legs, ear opening, and
eyelids. Four species of Ililnois snakes, the copperhead (Agkistrodon
contortrix), the cottonmouth (Agkistrodon piscivorus),
the timber rattlesnake (Crotalus horridus), and the eastern
massasauga (Sistrurus catenatus), are venomous. The chief conservation
concerns for Illinois snakes are habitat alteration and loss, and over-exploitation
for the pet trade. Misinformation, lack of information, and irrational
fears have also affected snake populations.
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All images © Scott R. Ballard.