A place nicknamed Snake Road, in Southern Illinois currently holds the title for the largest annual snake migration in North America.
As of the first of September, Forest road #354 in Shawnee National Forest be closed to vehicles. The 2.7-mile stretch – known as “Snake Road” will remain closed till the day before Halloween.
While the road is crossed by vehicles, it remains open to people, though I don’t know if you’d see me walking around this road alone.
According to the Illinois Department of Natural Resources, the bi-annual event marks a time when snakes journey to and from nearby limestone mounds and the LaRue Swamp. Certain snakes and amphibians are endangered, and the road closure helps their chances of survival as they cross.
Biologist Mark Vukovich keeps a watchful eye on snake road.
He recently interviewed with Illinois News Station WREX:
“There are venomous snakes here. 23 species have been documented here…”
While many – myself included – are rather terrified of snakes, Vukovich intends on changing this narrative.
“It’s a great way to get people over that general feeling that snakes are bad, and you know, they’re nasty creatures. They’re not. They’re not at all. This is a unique situation in Southern Illinois, it really is.”
As to the types of snakes one would expect to see, Vukovich states:
“The number one snake you’re going to see here is going to be the Northern Cottonmouth. The other two venomous snakes are Copperhead and Timber Rattlesnake. You have a good chance of seeing those.”
A snake lover’s dream…
So, you might ask, why DID the snake cross the road?
According to National Geographic, in the fall snakes migrate from the swamp, across the road, and to the cliffs to find a place to hibernate for the winter. In the spring, they migrate back to the swamp.