HRE Study: Snakes and Their Habitats

HRE students found this Queen snake in a stream

HRE students found this Queen snake in a stream


People remain fascinated by these legless reptiles.  In North Carolina, 37 species of snake have been identified.  By practicing identification of snakes and studying their behavior, we can learn a great deal about these often misunderstood creatures.

Project Overview

In this study, students look for, collect and identify snakes on each HRE study site.

Inquiry Questions

What kinds of snakes can be found at each HRE study site?

Data Collection

Students actively search for snakes by walking trails and turning over downed logs in the woods. We also place snake traps along drift fences and at the ends of drift fences.  The traps include minnow traps covered with carpet pieces to provide shade and homemade traps made with wood frames and metal screening, both of which must be actively monitored.  After participants capture snakes by hand or in the traps, they identify the snake species and measure the length of the snakes using three different techniques: squeeze box, snake tubes, and the “along the wall” method.

Ringneck snake (Diadophis punctatus)

Ringneck snake (Diadophis punctatus)

Students can design their own projects on snakes

One year, students designed and administered a survey on attitudes towards snakes and asked participants to estimate the length of snakes (a rubber snake, a rope snake, a caged snake, and a handheld snake).  Participants examined the relationship between people’s attitudes towards snakes and their accuracy in estimating the length of each “snake.”

Data Sheets

Download Data Sheets:
We use the following data sheet for recording data in the field.
Snake Capture Data Collection Sheet (Word)
Snake Capture Data Collection Sheet (PDF)


Species Identified So Far

Chestnut Ridge Camp and Retreat Center
Copperhead (Agkistrodon contortrix)
Eastern Garter (Thamnophis sirtalis)
Eastern Hognose (Heterodon platirhinos)
Northern Water (Nerodia sipedon)
Racer (Coluber constrictor)
Rat (Elaphe obsoleta)
Ringneck (Diadophis punctatus)
Rough Green(Opheodrys aestivus)
Worm (Caphophias amoenus)

Elon (Cedarock Park)
Queen (Regina septemvittata)

Rockfish Camp and Retreat Center
Banded Water (Nerodia fasciata)
Copperhead(Agkistrodon contortrix)
Rat (Elaphe obsoleta)
Redbelly Water Snake (Nerodia erythrogaster)