Mystery solved: DNR identifies snake spotted in Tomahawk

By Jalen Maki

Tomahawk Leader Editor

TOMAHAWK – Earlier this month, a reader submitted two photos of a snake recently spotted in Tomahawk.

The snake was photographed on the property of Jim and Jan Nelson on Kings Rd. and was believed to possibly be a timber rattlesnake or a gopher snake.

After the Leader published the photos in the Wednesday, May 17 issue seeking identification of the reptile, several readers reached out to say it was an eastern foxsnake, which was confirmed by the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR) on Thursday, May 18.

Armund D. Bartz of the DNR said foxsnakes, also known as pine snakes, are found throughout Wisconsin and can get up to five feet in length.

“They are non-venomous, but can be aggressive if they feel threatened,” Bartz explained. “Foxsnakes are also one of several snake species in Wisconsin that are considered rattlesnake mimics – when threatened, they will ‘rattle’ their tail to mimic a rattlesnake, hoping to scare off any potential predators.”

Bartz noted that not only does a foxsnake look like a rattlesnake when they do this, but the vibration of their tail against the ground, dry leaves or vegetation often produces a rattling noise that can sound very much like a rattlesnake. 

To learn more about eastern foxsnakes, visit the DNR website at

Photos courtesy of Catherine Nelson-Dittmann.
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