Forest Preserve District of Cook County, Illinois
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Snakes Alive
Nature Bulletin No. 54   February 23, 1946
Forest Preserve District of Cook County
Clayton F. Smith, President
Roberts Mann, Superintendent of Conservation

"Snakes Alive" is the title of a fascinating and valuable book by Clifford H. Pope, published by the Viking Press, New York City. We recommend it to the thousands of boys and girls who seem more interested in snakes than in any other wildlife. Also to folks that fear them.

There is only one venomous snake in this Chicago region -- the small massasauga rattlesnake. It is rare here and probably does not breed within Cook County. Although dangerous, its bite is not likely to be fatal unless to a small child or a person with a bad heart condition. There appears to be no authentic record of a death by rattlesnake bite in Illinois in the past 100 years. Even the massasauga should not be killed.

Cur common snakes are the garter snake, the little green snake, the blue racer, the pilot blacksnake, the fox snake, the bull snake and the water snake. They are all valuable to us. They live largely on worms, insects, toads, frogs, gophers, mice and fish. The blacksnake sometimes eats the eggs and young of birds but the good he does outweighs the bad. Many a farmer has a pet blacksnake or bull snake living around the barn, keeping the place free from mice and rats. They do not steal milk from cows.

Most of the popular beliefs about snakes are silly. There is no "hoop" snake that can take its tail in its mouth and roll down hill. There is no snake with a stinger in its tail like a scorpion. There is no "glass" snake that will break into pieces. The so-called "glass snake", that can lose his tail and grow another, is a legless lizard. Some snakes do bear their young alive but young snakes do not creep back into their mother' s mouth for safety. Most wrongful of all is the fear of snakes and the urge to kill them.

Thursday, February 7, we found a little green snake that had emerged from its den on Tuesday, the day it rained, thundered and was so warm.

Question: Do snakes drink water?

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