Sunday, July 21, 2013

There's lots of snakes in Ontario, right?

There's lots of snakes in Ontario... Think again!

Sadly, 11 of Ontario's snake species are at immediate risk of disappearing from Ontario. It is just a matter of time until we eliminate all 17 species. Their lives certainly are not getting any easier.

Many people try to kill snakes because they think the animals are dangerous - though only one very rare Ontario snake, the Massasauga rattler, is venomous. (Even then, Massasauga snakebites are extremely rare, and haven't caused a death in Ontario in more than 40 years.)

Blue Racer
Blue Racer (Coluber constrictor foxii)
 The Blue Racer is among the most graceful and swiftest of Ontario’s snakes, though it only reaches a top speed of 12 to16 kilometres per hour. It is easily startled and will flee if threatened. It will also imitate a rattlesnake by vibrating the tip of its tail in leaf litter to produce a buzzing sound.
Butler's Gartersnake
Butler's Gartersnake (Thamnophis butleri)
 The Butler's Gartersnake exhibits a peculiar behaviour called side-winding. When excited, it will vigorously wriggle from side to side, making little forward progress.
Eastern Foxsnake
Eastern Foxsnake (Pantherophis gloydi)
 endangered (Carolinian population), threatened (Georgian Bay population)
 If frightened, this harmless snake will mimic a rattlesnake by vibrating the tip of its tail in leaf litter to produce a buzzing noise.
Eastern Hog-nosed Snake
Eastern Hog-nosed Snake (Heterodon platirhinos)
 Unlike other snakes that tend to hibernate in groups, the Eastern Hog-nosed Snake usually spends the winter months alone. It may hibernate in a pre-existing burrow or dig a burrow in the ground with its snout.
Eastern Ribbonsnake
Eastern Ribbonsnake (Thamnophis sauritus)
 special concern
 Many species of snakes lay eggs, but Eastern Ribbonsnakes give birth to live young.
Gray Ratsnake
Gray Ratsnake (Pantherophis spiloides)
 Endangered (Carolinian population), Threatened (Frontenac Axis population)
 This snake is an excellent climber and may be seen up a tree or bush sunning, preparing to shed its skin or hunting for prey.
Lake Erie Watersnake
Lake Erie Watersnake (Nerodia sipedon insularum)
 Lake Erie Watersnakes can be a paler colour than watersnakes found elsewhere in Ontario. This is believed to be an adaptation that helps the snake camouflage on the pale limestone beaches characteristic of the islands it inhabits.
Massasauga Rattlesnake
Massasauga Rattlesnake (Sistrurus catenatus)
 The Massasauga is very shy and prefers to hide or retreat from enemies rather than bite them. If threatened, it will shake its tail as a warning and strike only as a last resort to protect itself if it can not escape.
Milksnake (Lampropeltis triangulum)
 special concern
 The Milksnake got its name from the false belief that it takes milk from cows in barns, which it often inhabits. Milksnakes cannot drink milk, and are attracted to barns by the abundance of mice.
Timber Rattlesnake
Timber Rattlesnake (Crotalus horridus)
 We killed them all!

Queensnake (Regina septemvittata)
 Queensnakes are excellent swimmers and can often be seen swimming and hunting underwater for their main food source – freshly-moulted crayfish. When freshly moulted, crayfish are soft, defenceless and easier to swallow. Ironically, during winter hibernation, crayfish turn the table and will eat juvenile and hibernating Queensnakes.

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