Burwash elk in winter


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For expert information of Ontario snakes, please check out:

Ontario Quick Reference Guide

Lizards and Snakes of Ontario

Snake Range Maps (Ontario)

Reptiles are common in the Burwash area. Most are shy and elusive. The following are a very few examples of the local reptiles that occur in the Burwash area, south of the city of Sudbury. This is the same area were most of the wildflowers were photographed.

Brown or Earth snake

Redbellied (or Redbelly) Snake (Storeria occipitomaculata): The Redbellied snake and Brown snake are closely related species.  Both have a brown-coloured dorsal area. Both are similar in size, appearance, habitat, and behaviour.  In Ontario, the Redbellied Snake ranges further north than the Brown Snake. The Redbellied snake  is small, 20-35 cm long, has dark coloured (brown, gray or black), has four dark longitudinal lines and a red or orange-coloured belly.  The orange colour of the belly may not be seen from above.  Redbellied Snakes usually have a light coloured spot on the back of the neck and one on either side of the neck. They seek shelter below the leaf litter and under logs. It prefers to eat earth worms and slugs. It is a food source for other snakes, birds, Raccoons and Skunks. This Redbellied Snake was crossing an old road between grass fields.

The Brown Snake which has a light brown or cream coloured belly with two rows of dark spots on its body. It has dark spots in the neck region.

Redbellied snake identification by Michael J. Oldham, Ontario Natural Heritage Information Centre (NHIC), Biodiversity Section, Fish & Wildlife Branch, Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources
Location: Burwash
Date: April 29, 2001

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Northern water snake, copyright 2008 Andy Fyon, www.ontariowildflower.com

The Northern Water Snake lives beside wet areas. It hunts within the water and along the water's edge. It is commonly seen basking in the sun on rocks or on logs.  It is not poisonous. It eats fish, frogs, and tad poles. This Northern water snake had captured a tad pole.

Location: Killarney Lighthouse area
Date: July 1, 2008

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The smooth green grass snake favours areas with lots of thick green vegetation. This includes fields, wet meadows, bogs, marsh edges and open woodlands. The snake is active during the day and feeds on crickets, grasshoppers, caterpillars, beetles, spiders, centipedes and millipedes. They rarely bite humans.

Location: McVittie power line
Date: July 22, 2001 

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Smooth green snake, Copyright 2007 Andy Fyon, www.ontariowildflower.com

Eastern Fox Snake, copyright 2004 Andy Fyon.

The Eastern Milk Snake can grow up to 1 m in length. The spots or colouration is usually red with black borders, but the colour can be variable and blotches may be brown or even green. It is the only snake in Ontario that is reddish.  It is not venomous. It eats small mammals and small ground-nesting birds. It lives in old fields and is more active at night when it is hunting. If surprised or threatened, the Eastern Milk Snake assumes an aggressive behaviour.  It raises its head in the air, vibrates its tail and may attempt to bite. It is sometimes mistaken for a rattlesnake, especially when the vibrating tail makes a buzzing sound in dry leaves.

The Eastern Milk Snake is of Special Concern Nationally.  It is listed as a "specially protected species" in schedules of the Fish and Wildlife Conservation Act, 1997. This Act prohibits hunting or trapping of this species, and it cannot be kept in captivity unless special permission is obtained from the Ministry of Natural Resources for the purposes of research or conservation management.

Information about endangered species in Ontario that are protected by legislation: SARA - species at risk act; COSEWIC (The Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada); and the Ontario Fish and Wildlife Conservation Act.

Canada's Species at Risk
Environment Canada Species at Risk.

Location: Burwash old village
Date: May 22, 2004.

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Eastern Milk Snake.

Location: Burwash old village
Date: May 22, 2004.

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Eastern Fox Snake, copyright 2004, Andy Fyon.

Garter snake, copyright 2007 Andy Fyon, ontariowildflower.com

Garter snake, copyright Andy Fyon 2007, ontariowildflower.com

The Common Garter Snake is the most widely distributed snake in North America. They are called garter snakes because of the pattern on their sides. It is said that the pattern resembles the form of garters once worn by men to hold up their socks.  The are commonly less than 80 cm in length.  Their colour can vary from green, to grey, to almost black.  They normally have back stripes on their side. The pattern makes the snake less visible to predators.  Garter snakes give birth to live young in late summer.  They eat earthworms, frogs, and mice.   They live in a range of habitats, including forests, edges of streams, fields, and wetlands.  In the winter, snakes hibernate in a deep crack, rock pile or log pile where the temperature remains above freezing.

Location: Burwash
Date: August 12, 2007.

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For more information email: andy@ontariowildflower.com
URL: http://www.ontariowildflower.com/wildlife_reptile.html
© 2001-2010 Andy Fyon

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Date last modified:

Andy Fyon

September 6, 2010

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