Eleven Illinois snake species are listed (as of 2004) as
either state endangered or state threatened. Endangered Illinois snakes include
the coachwhip (Masticophis flagellum), the broad-banded water snake (Nerodia
fasciata), the eastern massasauga (Sistrurus catenatus), and the
Great Plains rat snake (Elaphe emoryi). Illinois threatened snakes
include Kirtland's snake (Clonophis kirtlandii), the timber rattlesnake
(Crotalus horridus), the western hognose snake (Heterodon nasicus), the Mississippi green
water snake (Nerodia cyclopion), the flathead snake (Tantilla
gracilis), the eastern ribbon snake (Thamnophis sauritus) and the lined snake (Tropidoclonion lineatum). Several of these species are at the edge of their geographic
range in Illinois, occurring in only a few counties and having never been present
in large numbers. Kirtland's snake, the eastern massasauga and the timber rattlesnake,
however, are sharply declining over a large area of the United States.
alteration and loss are major factors in the declining populations of
snake species. Many people do not consider snakes beneficial and are not
concerned about destroying the forests, grasslands, swamps and sloughs
where snakes live when developing and building. Another factor is the
illegal trade of reptiles in Illinois. There are several laws designed
to protect all native Illinois snake species. However, selling reptiles
can be profitable and is tempting to some people even though it is illegal.
Killing of snakes because of misinformation, lack of information, and
irrational fears has also affected populations. Habitat preservation,
law enforcement, and education are the keys to conserving Illinois snakes.
eastern massasauga (Sistrurus catenatus), a rattlesnake species,
is endangered in Illinois.
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