Tuesday, June 9, 2015


I've had some amazing luck in the last month or so with snakes in Ontario. I never really get tired of snakes - even Garter Snakes make me pause quite regularly.

This large Eastern Fox Snake below was crossing a trail in Rondeau during May. This species is one of a number of Ontario reptiles that has small remnant populations in Southwestern Ontario but in Ontario is mostly found found around Georgian Bay. I have seen many Fox Snakes on Pelee Island but this is my first for Rondeau, where they are found at much lower density.

Speaking of low density, perhaps the poster species for the term would be the Eastern Hognose Snake. This species is quite widespread in areas with sandy soil, but is almost never found in any numbers. I've spent many hours searching for this species around Ontario, and finally spotted this large individual, my first, in Norfolk County last weekend.

 The upturned snout is used for digging in sandy soil. It isn't clear to me what keeps them from using non-sandy areas, as their primary prey of toads is abundant in any natural habitat.

When threatened, hognoses puff up like a cobra and become quite aggressive, but apparently rarely or never actually bite.

Eastern Massassauga Rattlesnakes are Ontario's only venomous snake, and although they can be reasonably common in the right areas, I have seen very few as I am rarely in the right parts of Ontario. As such I was happy to this one in Parry Sound District in late May.

Massassaugas are much thicker-bodied than most Ontario snakes.

I found this young Eastern Milksnake under a rock on the Bruce Peninsula. Within 10 metres of it we also found 7 Ring-necked and 4 Garter Snakes!

 Unlike the four species above, Northern Watersnake is a common and widespread species across all but the most agricultural parts of Southern Ontario. They can be very common on rocky lakeshores like this one on the Bruce Peninsula.

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