Pantherophis gloydi, commonly known as the eastern foxsnake or eastern fox snake, is a type of rat snake. It is nonvenomous and can be found in the eastern Great Lakes region of the United States, as well as western Ontario in Canada. It is sometimes considered a distinct species and sometimes considered a junior synonym of the species Pantherophis vulpinus.
Between about 1990 and 2011, fox snakes were sometimes divided into two species, with P. gloydi as the eastern fox snake and P. vulipinus as the western fox snake, and. A 2011 paper by Crother, White, Savage, Eckstut, Graham, Gardner proposed instead that the Mississippi River be established as the borderline between two species of fox snake, and that those found to its east be considered P. vulpinus (including those previously known as P. gloydi) and those found to its west be given the new name P. ramspotti.
Geographic range and Habitat
P. gloydi is found in marshes and other wetlands, as well as in the adjacent fields and meadows. They are found in the eastern Great Lakes region. Both P. gloydi and P. vulpinus live in the state of Michigan. P. vulpinus lives in the Upper Peninsula, where it is sometimes known as the pine snake. P. gloydi lives in the Lower Peninsula of Michigan. They can also be found in Ohio in the United States, and in Western Ontario in Canada. Historically, P. gloydi populations were also in New York, but now are no longer found there.
P. gloydi is considered threatened over most of its range due to habitat loss. Numbers have plummeted because of the development of wetlands and coastal habitat. Their numbers have also fallen due to collection for the pet trade. P. gloydi is often misidentified as the copperhead, Agkistrodon contortrix or as the massasauga rattlesnake, Sistrurus catenatus. They often rattle their tails similar to rattlesnakes as a form of mimicry. This also contributes to its decline in numbers, as many people fear that the snake may be venomous. In Ohio, P. gloydi is listed as a "Species of Concern" by the Ohio Division of Wildlife. In Michigan it is listed as a "Threatened Species" by the DNR and is protected by state law. In Ontario the species is listed as "Threatened Provincially and Nationally".
Powerful constrictors, P. gloydi will consume a variety of small mammals and birds. It has been hypothesized that they will also consume amphibians, but this has not been well documented. P. gloydi will occasionally wiggle their tails, rustling leaves, to ward off potential predators. This is a form of mimicry. The sound resembles that of a rattlesnake. When threatened, they may also coil, and if continued to feel threatened, strike.
Like all reptiles, P. gloydi reproduces sexually and are r-strategists according to r/K selection theory. They lay between 7 and 29 eggs, which generally hatch after about sixty days. Eggs are usually laid under logs or in rotting wood or humus.
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Education may be the best form of conservation for this species. Being able to differentiate between this species and venomous ones, such as the copperhead or the massasauga, may greatly reduce misidentification cases and subsequent deaths of the snake.
- Pantherophis ramspotti – the western fox snake (split from P. vulipinus in 2011)
- Hammerson, G.A. (2007). "Pantherophis gloydi". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2013.2. International Union for Conservation of Nature. Retrieved 14 June 2017.
- The Reptile Database. www.reptile-database.org.
- Crother, Brian I.; White, Mary E.; Savage, Jay M.; Eckstut, Mallory E.; Graham, Matthew R.; Gardner, David W. (2011). "A Reevaluation of the Status of the Foxsnakes Pantherophis gloydi Conant and P. vulpinus Baird and Girard (Lepidosauria)". ISRN Zoology. 2011. doi:10.5402/2011/436049. Retrieved 2017-06-15.
- Beltz, Ellin. 2006. Scientific and Common Names of the Reptiles and Amphibians of North America - Explained. http://ebeltz.net/herps/biogappx.html.
- Beolens B, Watkins M, Grayson M. 2011. The Eponym Dictionary of Reptiles. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press. xiii + 296 pp. ISBN 978-1-4214-0135-5. (Pantherophis gloydi, p. 102).
- http://www.dnr.state.oh.us/tabid/6607/Default.aspx[full citation needed]
- http://www.michigan.gov/dnr/0,1607,7-153-10370_12145_12201-61210--,00.html[full citation needed]
- http://www.rom.on.ca/ontario/risk.php?doc_type=fact&id=146[full citation needed]
- Conant R. 1940. A New Subspecies of the Fox Snake, Elaphe vulpina Baird & Girard. Herpetologica 2 (1): 1-14. (Elaphe vulpina gloydi).
- Conant R. 1975. A Field Guide to Reptiles and Amphibians of Eastern and Central North America, Second Edition. Boston: Houghton Mifflin. xviii + 429 pp. + Plates 1-48. ISBN 0-395-19979-4 (hardcover), ISBN 0-395-19977-8 (paperback). (Elaphe vulpina gloydi, p. 193 + Map 148).
- Schmidt KP, Davis DD. 1941. Field Book of Snakes of the United States and Canada. New York: G.P. Putnam's Sons. (Elaphe vulpina gloydi, p. 153).
- Wright AH, Wright AA. 1957. Handbook of Snakes of the United States and Canada. Ithaca and London: Comstock. 1,105 pp. (in 2 volumes). (Elaphe vulpina gloydi, pp. 265–269, Figure 82 + Map 23 on p. 223).