Put out the welcome mat for two new Island ‘residents’

A Western Fox Snake

The Wester Fox Snake is harmless to people and enjoys eating rodents. Photo by Ron Wojan

Two new Island residents (a snake and a turtle) were described in an article sent to NorthernIslander by Dr. Jim Gillingham, Professor Emeritus, Dept. of Biology at Central Michigan University.

The article reached us too late to be published in the upcoming August issue but we thought it was important to let everyone know about these two new ‘Islanders’ in the hopes that all will put out the welcome mat.

“…make no mistake, it is HARMLESS,” Gillingham wrote about the recently found Western Fox Snakes, most often spotted on the Island’s south end. The Fox Snake is beneficial as it eats rodents. It does have a habit of shaking or vibrating its tail…but it is NOT a rattlesnake and will not harm people. In fact, Gillingham has always championed the Island’s snakes species—ALL of them harmless.

Gillingham speculates the Fox Snakes might have ‘rafted’ here on debris in the lake and floated to our shores.

The other new Island neighbor is called a Blanding’s Turtle. It has a high-domed back shell and a bright yellow chin and neck.

A good swimmer, it could have journeyed to Beaver Island via water or as it is popular in the illegal pet trade, someone might have brought it to the Island and it either escaped or was set free.

Gillingham says both creatures are harmless and hopes all will welcome them to our shores.