UNION COUNTY, Ill. – The U.S. Forest Service has closed a small gravel road in Shawnee National Forest to allow for the safe migration of reptiles and amphibians.

Every spring and fall, tens of thousands of snakes and other small animals cross a small stretch of gravel road between a series of limestone bluffs and LaRue Swamp. According to the Forest Service, about 66% of the amphibians and 59% of the reptiles in Illinois can be found in this area.

The Forest Service usually closes Snake Road for the spring migration from March 15 to May 15. The animals will move from their hibernation spots in the bluffs to the swamp. Due to the warmer weather and increase in reptile and amphibian activity, the road was closed on March 5.

The road is again closed from September 1 to October 30 in the fall as the animals retreat back into the bluffs for the winter.

While the road is closed to vehicles, people are allowed to travel on foot. The land is a federally-protected research area, so collecting, handling, or interfering with the animals is prohibited.

The following species can be found migrating along Snake Road:

Courtesy Illinois Department of Natural Resources
  • Spiny Softshell
  • Northern Red-Bellied Snake
  • Spotted Salamander
  • Chorus Frog
  • Slimy Salamander
  • Broadhead Skink
  • Eastern Hognose Snake
  • Red Milk Snake
  • Midland Water Snake
  • Western Ribbon Snake
  • Eastern Rough Green Snake
  • Eastern Garter Snake
  • Western Lesser Siren
  • Marbled Salamander
  • Small-Mouthed Salamander
  • Midwest Worm Snake
  • Central Newt
  • Zigzag Salamander
  • Long-Tailed Salamander
  • Black Rat Snake
  • Cave Salamander
  • American Toad
  • Fowler’s Toad
  • Copperhead
  • Blanchard’s Cricket Frog
  • Northern Spring Peeper
  • Eastern Grey Treefrog
  • Black Racer
  • Bullfrog
  • Green Frog
  • Southern Leopard Frog
  • Midland Brown Snake
  • Common Snapping Turtle
  • Stinkpot Turtle
  • Eastern Box Turtle
  • Ring-necked Snake
  • Eastern Painted Turtle
  • Red-Eared Turtle
  • Northern Fence Lizard
  • King Snake
  • Ground Skink
  • Western Cottonmouth
  • Five Lined Skink
  • Western Earth Snake
  • Western Mud Snake
  • Diamond-Backed Water Snake