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Let's Go Herping on Snake Road in Illinois!

April 29, 2015



Do you live in Illinois or are planning to go to Shawnee National Forest between March 15 through May 15 and from Sept. 1 through Oct. 30, and you love snakes and other reptiles, then you will be in for a treat as the U.S. Forest Service  closes down a 2.5 mile section of road to car traffic to allow migrating reptiles to move freely from their winter resting grounds to their summer feeding grounds. The road is then closed again from Sept. 1 to Oct. 30 as the reptiles make their trek back to their winter brumation grounds.  The state is home to 35 snake species, including water moccasins, southern copperhead, blue racer, northern scarlet snake, northern and prairie ring necked snake, and southern black racers, just to name a few. 


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Northern ringneck snake

Cody Hough/Wikipedia

The northern ringneck snake is just one of 35 species of snake that may be found near Snake Road in Illinois.

Called Snake Road by the locals, the  road attracts reptile and amphibian lovers from throughout the United States to see all the animals on their annual migration. The forest service began restricting vehicles on the road more than 40 years ago, and back then, hunters would come to the road and shoot virtually every snake that they could as they made their annual trek, Charles Hoessle, a retired director of the St. Louis Zoo told the AP. "The attitude then was, 'The only good snake was a dead snake,'" he said. "In my generation, I was the only kid who was fascinated by snakes. Nobody else wanted to have anything to do with them."

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