Monday, October 26, 2009

Snake Road

Every year during the spring and fall a unique road in the Shawnee National Forest in Southern Illinois is closed off due to "the snake migration." These reptiles spend their summer foraging in the surrounding swampland. In fall these snakes seek hibernation in the crevices of the limestone bluffs, bordering the southern portion of the swamp. Snakes are not the only animals utilizing these bluffs for hibernation; lizards, newts, salamanders, frogs and toads also call this place home.

For the last few years I have been able to experience the fall migration. It was amazing exploring Snake Road and photographing the large diversity of herpetofauna this wetland has to offer. We found over 30 species of herps (reptiles and amphibians) during each visit to the road. If you are into nature and want to see a natural phenomenon I would recommend a trip to the Shawnee National Forest.

Here are a few of the many photographs I've taken on my short but memorable visits to "The Road."

Timber Rattlesnake

Western Cottonmouth

Rough Green Snake

Black Rat Snake

Western Mudsnake

Shawnee Kingsnake

Yellow-bellied Watersnake

Green Tree Frog

Southern Leopard Frog

Northern Cricket Frog

Bird-voiced Tree Frog

While photographing this little frog decided to jump on Steve's tripod
(Look carefully!)

Dwarf American Toad

Fowlers Toad

Central Newt

Mole Salamander

Slimy Salamander

Cave Salamander

Yellow Spotted Salamander

Marbled Salamander

Fence Lizard

Ground Skink

Five-lined Skink