SNAKES OF THE LAKE ERIE ISLANDS
The Lake Erie Islands are home to eight species of snakes. The Lake Erie watersnake is an endemic specie meaning that
the Lake Erie Islands are the only place in the world where it can be found. While timber rattlesnakes used to be
common on the islands they have not been found since the 1960's and there are no longer any venomous snakes to be
found on the Lake Erie Islands. We repeat, THERE ARE NO VENOMOUS SNAKES ON THE ISLANDS!
Click HERE for the Lake Erie watersnake's own description page
QUEEN SNAKE (Regina
Locally Queen snakes can only be found on Kelley's
Island. They can be found near streams and lakes
and often hide under flat rocks and hanging
vegetation over the water. Queen snakes specialize
in eating crayfish but they will also eat small
amounts of amphibians and small fish. These snakes
give birth to live young. They are solid gray with a
cream colored belly with distinctive side stripes
that grow to 15-24 inches.
Ringneck Snake (Diadophis
Ringneck snakes are know to be found on South Bass
and Middle Bass. These secretive snakes hide under
logs and rocks in moist woodlands and are most
frequently encountered at night. They specialize in
eating redbacked salamanders and also eat
earthworms, slugs, and small frogs. Identifying
ringnecks is pretty simple, they have a golden ring
around their neck. They have a bluish black color and
yellow-red belly. Ringnecks are eggylayers.
Eastern Hognose (Heterodon
Hognose snakes can be found on Kelley's Island.
These snakes prefer sandy habitats and areas
where there are lots of toads - which are their
primary food. These snakes are easy to identify
thanks to their upturned snout (used to dig up
toads), flared neck, and short thick body. When
approached this snake will act like a cobra hissing
violently and striking with its neck expanded.
Hognose snakes are rear fanged and are capable of
injecting venom. However, the venom is very mild
and you basically have to stick your finger down this
snakes mouth to convince it to bite you. When acting
like a cobra does not work hognose snakes will then
try to play possum by rolling on their belly and faking
death. Hognose snakes are egglayers.
Blue Racer (Coluber
Blue racers can be seen on South Bass
and Kelley's Island. They prefer dry
sunny areas, open fields, and lake edges.
Racers eat birds, small mammals, and
even other snakes! These long slender
snakes can reach up to 70 inches in
length. They have smooth shiny scales and
have a striking grayish blue color to them.
These snakes are known to set up their
own territories and are often inquisitive
of human activity. Stories are sometimes
told of how racers have chased people. In
fact, these snakes tend to have
preferred hiding places and if you are in
the middle of that hiding spot the snake
will not hesitate to go right through your
legs en route! These snakes are
incredibly fast and are probably the
fastest snake in the northern US.
Fox Snake (Pantherophis
Despite having a small restricted range in the
US and Canada Fox Snakes are fairly common on
all of the Lake Erie islands. These snakes like
marshlands and grass prairies near water. Fox
snakes eat small mammals and birds and are
excellent climbers. Fox snakes can get up to 6
feet long and are easily identified by the dark
blotches on their yellow-brown background.
These snakes have a copper colored head and
will rattle their tail against the ground which
causes them to be mistakenly identified as
venomous when in fact they are incredibly docile
and are often thought to be someone's lost pet.
Fox snakes are listed as a species of special
Brown snakes are a small snake
that typically hang out under debris
like rocks, logs, and trash. They
are quite common and inhabit all of
the islands. Brown snakes eat
invertebrates like worms and
slugs. As their name implies they
are brown and have two rows of
black spots going down their back.
Brown snakes are livebearers.
Eastern Garter Snake
As with the rest of Ohio Garter snakes
are commonly encountered on all the
Lake Erie Islands. Their habitats range
from forests to fields to people's
backyards and they are often found near
water. Garter snakes diet consists of
earthworms, amphibians, and small
amounts of fish, small birds, and
rodents. They are highly variable in
color but will often have yellow stripes
on their sides. The Lake Erie Islands
have a large amount of melanistic color
morphs that are jet black.