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The Eastern Fox Snake is one of Ohio’s largest snakes, the e-astern fox snake may grow to over five feet long. It is a boldly patterned snake with large dark brown or black spots down the middle of the back and smaller, alternating spots along the sides of a yellowish to light brown body. The underside is yellowish checkered with dark squarish spots.
The head can be yellow, light brown to reddish brown and is generally unmarked except for a dark band between the eyes on the top of the head and a few dark bands extending from the eye down to the mouth. Juvenile eastern fox snakes are paler in color than the adults and have gray or brown spots bordered in black on the back and more distinctive head markings.
The eastern fox snake is a true constrictor, which means they kill by wrapping their bodies around the chest of their prey and squeezing until the prey eventually dies. They live off of a diet of small mammals as well as frogs, birds, and occasionally bird eggs.
Distribution And Habitat
The Eastern fox snake is generally associated with the Lake Erie marshes, but is often encountered in grasslands, farm fields, and open woodlots. They are likely to be found wherever there are rodents to eat and places to hide. Fox snakes overwinter deep enough underground to avoid freezing and emerge in the spring.
These snakes are usually found near water, and are capable of swimming long distances over open offshore waters and between islands. During the winter season, eastern fox snakes hibernate in groups within deep cracks in the bedrock and in some man-made structures.
Mating occurs in spring, eggs are laid in July. An adult female may lay between 7 and 29 eggs, which generally hatch after about 60 days. Eggs are usually laid under logs, or in rotting wood or humus. Typically August to September, 7 to 29 hatchlings will emerge.
Eastern fox snakes are major predators of small rodents, which can be agricultural pests. If fox snake numbers can be kept stable they will help control small rodent numbers resulting in less crop damage in many agricultural fields.
These snakes are harmless, and there are no known negative effects of these snakes on humans.