Western Fox Snake
Elaphe vulpina gloydii
Good Grabbers about the Western Fox Snake:
- the largest native snake in DuPage County (over five feet long)
36" - 54"
Western Fox snakes occur throughout most of DuPage County where there is suitable habitat. The fox snake’s habitat preference is open grassland and forest edges near grasslands. Though not typically associated with water, the western fox snake is often found living in close proximity to an area of wetland.
Fox snakes are the largest native snake in DuPage County attaining a length of over five feet long in older individuals. They are also heavy-bodied snakes and often give the impression of being “larger than life” when they are encountered unexpectedly.
Fox snakes feed on warm blooded prey consisting mostly of meadow voles, white- footed and/or deer mice, chipmunks, thirteen-lined ground squirrels, very young nestling rabbits, ground nesting birds and their eggs. These snakes are constrictors meaning they subdue their prey using their body to wrap around the animal tightly to prevent it from breathing, causing the prey animal to suffocate. Once it ceases struggling, the snake will usually locate the animal’s head and begin swallowing it head first. The fox snake, as well as other snakes, can swallow prey up to two or three times their own diameter, however more often than not their prey items are no more than half again the body girth of the snake.
Fox snakes go through a long winter hibernation period beneath the ground in naturally occurring fissures, old well holes, or underneath concrete slabs and patios or along building foundations. After they emerge from hibernation mating occurs and about a month afterwards the female will deposit six to twenty eggs in a location where they will develop and hatch in mid- to late summer. The hatchlings are independent and will feed on mice or voles of suitable size after their first shed cycle is complete.
Western fox snakes are found throughout most of Illinois, Wisconsin, Iowa and the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, as well southern Minnesota and portions of South Dakota, Kansas, Nebraska, Missouri and Indiana.