Habitat use by three species of snakes at the Middle Fork Fish and Wildlife Area, Illinois

W. L. Keller, E. J. Heske

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


We used radiotelemetry to determine habitat use by 11 black rat snakes (Elaphe obsoleta obsoleta), five fox snakes (Elaphe vulpina vulpina) and four blue racers (Coluber constrictor foxii) at the Middle Fork Fish and Wildlife Area in east-central Illinois in 1997 and 1998. Black rat snakes selected forested habitats, whereas fox snakes and blue racers selected old fields and prairie restorations. No consistent association with forestfield edges was noted for any species. Fox snakes and blue racers were primarily terrestrial, whereas black rat snakes used all categories of vertical space but were primarily arboreal. Snakes were tracked to three hibernation sites, including an abandoned railroad trestle and two abandoned trash and construction-material dumps. These data provide the first comparative, quantitative descriptions of habitat use for these species in sympatry, and one of the few descriptions of hibernacula in a region dominated by row-crop agriculture.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)558-564
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Herpetology
Issue number4
StatePublished - 2000

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Animal Science and Zoology


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