Prairie State Wildlife occasionally receives service calls for reptiles. Prairie State Wildlife assists residents and landowners in Oswego, Naperville, Joliet, Bolingbrook, Romeoville, Lemont, Downers Grove, Yorkville and Sandwich Illinois and surrounding areas. Although northern Illinois has a fair number of reptiles and amphibians most are harmless and cause residents little concern. Most calls received are for any number of species of snake (native and non-native). Most calls involve ribbon, garter and fox snakes. All are harmless. The only venomous snakes in our service area are the eastern massasauga rattlesnake (pygmy rattlesnake) which is heavily associated with wetlands and swamps. They are very rare in the Cook, DuPage and Will county areas due to habitat destruction and loss. The other is the timber rattlesnake and is found in the bluffs along the Illinois River.
Occasionally our staff responds to calls of non-native Illinois reptiles and we have captured and removed various species of snake including large boas and pythons. Rarely we respond to a request to remove an alligator from a local pond or golf course. Nearly all of the non-native reptiles were once pets and released by uncaring owners. These animals cannot survive the long cold Illinois winter and perish after a prolonged cold spells.
Native snakes are best managed by removing any debris and hiding areas on the property. Woodpiles, stacked boards, pallets and tin should be removed from the area adjacent to the residence. In addition, keep all grass areas mowed short so as not to give snakes hidden areas to rest, hide and hunt for food. Often times the removal of "snake habitat" will solve a "snake problem".
Trapping of snakes can be difficult as you cannot attract a snake to a trap with bait. Traps can be set along walls and in areas where snakes are known to travel. Snakes are often observed once and never seen again.
Copyright by Prairie State Wildlife 2023.