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Western Fox Snake

Western Fox Snake and Eastern Fox Snake
Pantherophis vulpinus and Pantherophis gloydi

Image of western fox snakeDescription

A large yellowish or light brown snake with dark brown or black blotches down the back and sides. The head may be reddish or orange, and the belly is yellowish, checkered with black. The two different species of fox snake that occur in Michigan are very similar (see below) but their ranges do not overlap.

Adult Length:

3 to 5 feet.

Habitat and Habits

The Western Fox Snake (Pantherophis vulpinus) inhabits woods, old fields, and dune areas in the U.P. The Eastern Fox Snake (Pantherophis gloydi) prefers coastal marshes and adjacent wet meadows in the southeastern L.P. Fox Snakes feed on rodents, frogs, and birds. When threatened, they may coil, vibrate their tails, and strike, but are non-venomous.


Seven to 29 eggs are laid in early summer, usually under a log or in rotted wood. The young, colored much like the adults, hatch in about 60 days.

Range and Status

The Western Fox Snake is locally common in the Upper Peninsula, where it is often called a "pine snake." The increasingly rare Eastern Fox Snake, of the Great Lakes marshes in the southeastern Lower Peninsula, is listed as a THREATENED species and is protected by law in Michigan.


James Harding
MSU Museum
Michigan State University
East Lansing, MI 48824
(517) 353-7978