The Fox Snake is the common name given to two species of non-venomous snake: the Eastern Fox Snake, Pantherophis gloydi, and the Western Fox Snake, Pantherophis vulpina. Both species are native to North America. The eastern fox snake is found in the states of Ohio and eastern Michigan and the Canadian province of Ontario. The western fox snake is found in western Michigan, Wisconsin, Illinois, and Iowa.
The eastern variety prefers the flat, marshy areas of Lake Huron and Lake Erie. The western species is found in open forests, prairies, and farmlands. They both average 35 to 50 inches in length at adulthood, but larger specimens have been reported. They are typically tan or gray in color with chocolate-brown blotches down their back with yellowish accents. The eastern fox snake is less blotchy, but those blotches tend to be larger in size, than those of the western species.
Fox snakes are mainly diurnal and terrestrial. They feed on rodents mostly, but sometimes will eat birds, rabbits, and young fox snakes may eat frogs and other small animals. They kill their prey by constriction. Like many colubrid snakes, when harassed they will vibrate their tails, which often people confuse them with rattlesnakes. They are also capable of releasing a musky anal secretion which purportedly smells fox-like, hence their name.
During the winter fox snakes will hibernate, often congregating with other snakes, even those of other species, in suitable den sites. Mating occurs in the late spring and early summer months. A clutch averaging 15-20 eggs are laid in mid summer and normally hatches in early fall.