|Reptiles and amphibians (also known as “herps”) are a
secretive group of species that inhabit the prairies, wetlands,
and oak woodlands of the bi-state region. Many wildlife
biologists consider them to be excellent barometers of
ecological health because they are extremely sensitive to
changes in the environment around them. While many people may
find snakes, frogs, and salamanders frightening, these creatures
are wary of humans and prefer to stay in their natural
Because most reptiles and amphibians are dependent on clean wetlands and healthy ecosystems for part of their life cycle, many species of frogs, snakes, turtles, and salamanders are experiencing drastic population declines across the Midwest. The bi-state region is fortunate to have healthy populations of many of these herp species, such as:
|Are There Poisonous Snakes in the Bi-state region?|
|Only one poisonous snake is known to have occurred
historically in the bi-state region: the Massasagua or Pygmy
Rattlesnake. This species is extremely rare and on the
state-endangered species list for both Illinois and Wisconsin.
Its habitat is wetlands where it can find crayfish, one of its
main prey species. This small reptile is often confused with the
Fox Snake, a much larger non-poisonous species with no rattles.
The Fox Snake will vibrate its tail rapidly, however, to mimic
the warning movements and sounds of a real rattlesnake. Most
people seeing a Fox Snake displaying this behavior are convinced
they have seen a true rattlesnake.
|Learn about some of the other species that reside in the bi-state area! Click on these links to continue: Birds, Butterflies, Fish and Mussels, Mammals, Plants, and Trees|
|Science of Hackmatack Home Photos courtesy of Wikimedia Commons|