Herper Finds Smooth Green Snake in Unlikely Illinois Town
July 17, 2014
When you go out herping, do you have a specific animal in mind that you would like to see, or do you like to just wing it and find what you find? A man in Waukegan, IL, took the former route looking for a specific snake, and guess what, he found it just a few steps from strip malls and other places of business.
Dan Traynoff went back to an area that he used to explore more than 40 years ago looking for the smooth green snake (Opheodrys vernalis), and he found one under some discarded boards in a field. Traynoff looked for the snake in that part of town because the area, remarkably, remains unchanged from the time he was a kid.
The smooth green snake is a cool little snake that eats crickets, beetles and other insects.
Lake County Forest Preserve wildlife biologist Gary Glowacki told the Lake County News Sun that Traynoff’s discovery of the little snake is a success story and a testament to a captive breeding program that Glowacki has worked on in conjunction with Chicago’s Lincoln Park Zoo.
Those captive bred specimens have been released into preserves in Lake County for the last five years to re-establish the population in that part of Illinois. The state has labeled the smooth green snake as "in greatest need of conservation," according to the news report.
Traynoff told the paper that any fan of nature would love to observe this snake in the wild. “They’re such a cool little reptile,” he said. “I think even people who don’t like snakes would like them.”
The smooth green snake (Opheodrys vernalis) is non-venomous and bright green in coloration with a white belly. It grows to about two feet in length and can be range from northern Canada to the southern United States and northern Mexico. The snake can also be found in Wyoming and New Mexico. Its habitat includes grassy areas on prairies as well as in marshes and near lakes. The smooth green snake feeds on small insects, including crickets, grasshoppers, caterpillars, spiders and beetles.
John B. Virata keeps a ball python, two corn snakes, a king snake, and two leopard geckos. His first snake, a California kingsnake, was purchased at the Pet Place in Westminster, CA for $5. Follow him on Twitter @johnvirata