Western Foxsnake Pantherophis vulpinus

Small adult from Tippecanoe County
Adult from Tippecanoe County

Identification: This relatively long, brown to tan-yellow snake is similar to many other blotched or banded Indiana snakes, but found only in the northwestern part of the state. Though most of the snake is a dull brown or tan color, the head is sometimes a rusty red-brown. This snake is closely related to black ratsnakes and shares their slightly keeled scales and checkerboard of dark squares on the underbelly. However, this is a slightly smaller species that often grows to around four feet (1.2 m) long and, only occasionally, exceeds five feet (1.5m) in length.

Similar Species: Foxsnakes are most likely to be confused with eastern milksnakes, though they are slightly larger. In fact, the two snakes have remarkably similar dorsal and ventral patterning even down to the dark bar that connects the eyes. Notably, foxsnakes have slightly keeled scales, whereas milksnakes have glossy smooth scales. Also, foxsnakes have a more defined neck and head than milksnakes. Northern watersnakes are superficially similar, but have more heavily keeled scales, more complete bands, and lack the dark bar connecting the eyes. The more robust bullsnake is a lighter, white-yellow color with black bands that become indistinct and checkered toward the head.

Distribution: Foxsnakes are only found in the northwestern part of the state but inhabit a wide range of habitats including forests, old fields, and prairie. They frequent wet areas such as the margins of wetlands and streams and may even be found along the grassy margins of irrigation ditches in agricultural landscapes.

Distribution Map
Distribution map of Western Foxsnake (Pantherophis vulpinus)
Photographs