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Biological Survey

Herping the Siouxland

               Western Fox Snakes

                  (Elaphe vulpina)

I've been keeping Fox snakes as pets since I was 10 years old, and now, after all these years, I am finally able to offer a few of them as pets too. The snakes you see for sale down below are all captive bred and hatched from 2 wild caught/rescued adults.


Here are the 2018 hatchlings.

All hatched last August, 2018.

(Sorry all sold out. I'm keeping Male # 6 till next spring)


All are feeding on large frozen thawed pink mice every 5 days. ___________________________

Male (# 6)

12.50 inches


I ship through Reptiles Express.

(FedEx Priority Overnight)

Shipping prices can run from about

$35 up to $70.

Please add $20 for shipping box, plastic containers, insurance, etc.


The story of how they came to be permanent residents of our household began in 2011, with the installation of some nylon mesh erosion control netting along a bike trail near Mankato, Minnesota.

       (I will provide a link to the whole story soon)

        For now... I will introduce Rocky: (The female)


                    And Bullwinkle: (The male)

Bullwinkle hissed at me once when I first picked him up. Since then, he has been as tame as a length of rope. Rocky... on the other hand... bit me at least a dozen times on the way home, and as I was setting up her enclosure!
(Since then she has tamed down completely,
just like her new mate)

Their heads really aren't that rusty red.
It's a reflection from the red heat bulb.



Yearlings might take food longer into the Fall season than sub-adults, but will probably begin to stop eating before Winter.


And here's the life history of
Western Fox snakes:


Western Fox Snakes (Elaphe vulpina)

The Fox Snake is a tan and brown spotted snake that can grow up to 5 feet long. They emerge from hibernation during the last week of April. The month of May is the breeding season.
On Memorial Day weekend I had the opportunity to witness (and photograph) some rarely seen courtship and breeding behavior. These photos were taken with a Pentax K1000 35mm camera. Remember...These snakes are all completely wild. (No tame pet actors here.) However...most of them were so intent with courtship and breeding that very few exhibited aggressive behavior. Only one thing on their tiny little minds: Reproduction!          

This photo gives you an idea of how big these are. This one measured about 3 and 1/2 feet. Each snake was caught, measured, photographed and released again. Most of them stayed around the immediate area and some of them were re-captured several times. 
  When 2 males meet they size each other up.    If they are an even match and neither one backs down... the fight begins.     It can get a bit rough and one of them gets in a good bite! I didn't even see this when I took the photo. 
The confrontation usually involves a wrestling match as one tries to pin the other one's head to the ground.
They spin around and around like 2 ropes in a Tornado! It gets pretty tight and nasty towards the end. Below you  can see one of them gets in another bite. That did it! The loser crawled away and the winner gave a brief chase until he was out of sight. A few minutes after the fight ended a female came crawling into view. He picked up her scent on the ground and began following close behind.
                                                                                                                  The lighter colored male was totally oblivious to me as I frantically snapped the photos. The female was an unusually dark colored specimen. She had just emerged from a nearby pond and was still pretty slow and cool to the touch. This was to his advantage I recorded the ground temperature at 103 degrees! He was all warmed up and ready to go.  

 Sometimes the mating process is just as rough as the male dominance battle. When the male reaches the female's neck he bites her too! If she's ready to mate she stops crawling and the male begins to wrap his tail around hers.  

The chase and capture took place right out in the open on a hot sunny day. But soon after he had retained his new mate...he gradually guided her into the shade of a small clump of weeds nearby. There they proceeded to mate. They remained together for about a half hour and paid no attention to me at all. I've seen  all of this before in captive specimens...  but have never before witnessed this in the wild. (I do have even more detailed and graphic pics of the actual mating  but I think we'll stop it here for now.


About a month later during the last week of June (usually around the Summer Solstice) pregnant females can be found crawling across roads and trails looking for a safe place to lay their eggs. In 1994 I found several females out moving around just before sundown and decided to bring one home. (I already had a nice place all set up for her so I could photograph the procedure)

*Please note: You should NEVER bring home a wild animal of Any kind unless you have done extensive research first and can provide it with adequate care...even if it's only a temporary captive!!!  During the 4th of July weekend she began the nesting procedure. The photos down below show a female in the process of "building" a nest. In the wild they lay their eggs under a hollow log or large flat rock...anywhere the eggs can be warm and moist and safe from predators such as Raccoons and Skunks.              
She began by digging out an area in the moist soil under a small hollow log. (I removed the log when she started for better viewing and to take the photos) She didn't seem to mind and kept right on digging) She's actually turning round and around hollowing out a small depression in the soil. She did this for 10 minutes until she had it just right.  Then the actual egg laying began.                             The eggs come out of the vent near the base of her tail. Each one is over an inch long and is soft and flexible like a marshmallow.   Here comes egg # 3. An egg is laid about every 20 minutes. At the bottom of this photo you can just barely see the snake's head.  It appears as if she becomes unconscious just before egg-laying begins. Her head drops down to her side and does not move through-out the process.   I've noticed this in other species too. No eye movement or tongue flicking occurs during the several hours it takes to lay about a dozen eggs at a time. This female produced 14 eggs. Shortly after the last one was laid...she appeared to regain consciousness and eventually left the eggs to hatch all by themselves.                                                      I removed them from the big observation cage and put them in a container filled with mulch from an old rotten log. Here you can see the set-up I had to view and photograph the show. Towards the end of August the eggs begin to hatch. These were kept at room temperature. (Which in My little one-room non air-conditioned apartment was about 85 degrees) The baby snake makes a slit in the soft eggshell with a tiny "egg-tooth" on the tip of it's nose. This looks like a tiny grain of salt and soon falls off after the baby emerges. You can see the sliced up egg-shells to the left. The little snakes literally knife their way out of the egg! (These were hatched out in a 10 gallon aquarium with a nice "Autumn Scene" taped to the back. All these hatchlings are piled up under the light soaking up the heat. The momma snake was released at the spot where I found her shortly after she laid her eggs. And soon after these photos were taken...all of these little ones were released in the same general area where the female was found, too. Young Fox Snakes are about a foot long, eat small mice and can be found from about late August right on up to the first blizzard of the Winter! They spend the winter underground down below the frost line.

Adults will climb up into low trees and bushes and eat hatchling birds and fledglings they can catch on the ground... but they are mostly great consumers of Mice, Rats and Gophers and should be considered a friend of the farmer and gardener!


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