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 Illinois

  SNAKES   

HOW WILL I KNOW?

*no tail
*no ear openings
*no eyelids
*scales

WHERE WILL I FIND THEM?

Snakes can be found in many habitats. Some live on land, and some live in water. Some can be found in trees. Some tend to stay hidden under rocks or logs.

WHAT ELSE SHOULD I KNOW ABOUT THEM?

Snakes do not see or hear well. They rely on their other senses to help them find prey. When a snake sticks out its forked tongue, it is picking up chemicals from the environment.

Snakes shed their skin as they grow. When a snake is getting ready to shed, its eye will appear milky. Snakes have no eyelid, but a clear scale covers and protects the eye. This scale is shed along with the rest of the skin. Snakes tend to be irritable before they shed their skin.

Snakes are carnivores. They eat food larger than their head because their jaws are adjustable. Some snakes strike their prey while others are constrictors.

Snakes lay eggs covered by a leathery shell. Often the eggs are found in rotten wood or other dead vegetation. A few snakes give birth to fully developed young.

Left pictures show SCALES, far left are KEELED SCALES, near left are SMOOTH SCALES
Right pictures show ANAL PLATES, top ENTIRE ANAL PLATE, bottom DIVIDED ANAL PLATE



EASTERN HOG-NOSED SNAKE

Heterodon platirhinos
(HEH-ter-oh-don plat-e-RHINE-ose)

IS IT NEAR MY HOUSE?

statewide in Illinois

WHAT DOES IT LOOK LIKE?

This medium-sized snake (20-33 inches) has a large shovel-like plate on the tip of its nose. Its belly may be light or dark, but the underside of the tail is always light. The scales are keeled. The body has dark spots on a gray, tan or brown background or may be olive, brown or black without spots.

WHAT ARE ITS HABITS?

The hog-nosed snake bluffs predators by spreading its head ad neck and hissing. It is sometimes called the "hissing adder" or "puff adder." It may play dead, too. When disturbed, it deposits large amounts of foul-smelling waster material. Hog-nosed snakes primarily eat toads and frogs. This species seems to be immune to toads’ poisonous secretions.

WHAT ABOUT REPRODUCTION?

The long eggs of this snake are sometimes found under rocks, with most reproduction happening from mid-April through May. Clutch size averages 15-25 with eggs developing in 50-65 days.

Read & Color

Now that you have learned more about this reptile, color or paint it as it would look in the wild. Add some of its habitat, too.

DeKAY'S BROWN SNAKE

Storeria dekayi
(sto-RARE-e-uh dee-KAY-eye rye-TORE-um)

IS IT NEAR MY HOUSE?

statewide in Illinois

WHAT DOES IT LOOK LIKE?

This small snake (9-13 inches) has 17 rows of strongly keeled scales and a divided anal plate. It is gray or light brown, usually with a faint light stripe along the back. The stripe may have a border of dark spots or dashes. There is a dark spot on either side of the neck behind the head and below each eye.

WHAT ARE ITS HABITS?

Forest, prairie and floodplain habitats are home for this snake. It is often encountered under rock and rubbish. Brown snakes primarily eat earthworms, slugs and insect larvae. They may discharge a mild musk when frightened. Brown snakes are eaten by many predators.

WHAT ABOUT REPRODUCTION?

Breeding occurs in the spring. During late summer, the female gives birth to an average litter of 14. Newborn snakes must escape from a thin membrane that encloses them.

Read & Color

Now that you have learned more about this reptile, color or paint it as it would look in the wild. Add some of its habitat, too.

EASTERN RATSNAKE

Elaphe obsoleta
(e-LAUGH-e ob-so-LEET-uh)

IS IT NEAR MY HOUSE?

central to southern Illinois

WHAT DOES IT LOOK LIKE?

Eastern ratsnakes are large (42-72 inches) and heavy-bodies. The scales are weakly keeled, and the anal plate is divided. The head of an eastern ratsnake is wider than its neck. These snakes are dark with white spots between dark blotches on the back. The belly is dark gray or brown with dark specks.

WHAT ARE ITS HABITS?

An excellent climber, the movements of this snake are slow and deliberate. Disturbed individuals often "freeze" in position. If bothered it may raise its head, vibrate the tip of its tail and lunge. This snake eats birds and small mammals. It is a constrictor.

WHAT ABOUT REPRODUCTION?

The eggs are often placed in rotten wood. An average clutch would contain 10-14 eggs. eggs tend to stick together in the nest. Hatchlings emerge in late August or early September

Read & Color

Now that you have learned more about this amphibian, color or paint it as it would look in the wild. Add some of its habitat, too.

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