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Snake Road closed today for the annual fall reptile, amphibian migration
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Snake Road closed today for the annual fall reptile, amphibian migration

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Slithering serpent

A cottonmouth swims across a pond along Snake Road in the Shawnee National Forest in April. The semi-annual closure of the road is in effect now through Oct. 30 for the fall snake and amphibian migration.

The Shawnee National Forest's famous "Snake Road" closed Tuesday to allow reptiles and amphibians — some of which are considered threatened and endangered — to migrate from their summer homes in LaRue Swamp to their winter hibernation spots in nearby limestone bluffs.

The U.S. Forest Service announced the bi-annual closure on its Facebook page Tuesday. The road will be closed to vehicle traffic through Oct. 30. The road also closes from March 15 to May 15 annually to allow for the migration from the bluffs to the swamps. 

Snake Road is more officially known as Forest Service Road No. 345, or LaRue Road. The stretch known as "Snake Road" is closed from mile post 3.0 to mile post 5.8. While it is closed to vehicles to allow the rare species safe passage, it is open to foot traffic. It is located south and west of Murphysboro and east of Illinois 3.

The two-month migration attracts people from across the country to view the diversity of reptile and amphibian species along this single stretch of road. About 66% of the amphibians and 59% of the reptiles known to occur in Illinois are found here, according to the U.S. Forest Service.

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While foot traffic is welcome, LaRue-Pine Hills/Otter Pond is a federally designated Research Natural Area and unauthorized collecting and handling of any of these species is prohibited, according to the Forest Service.

For more information about Snake Road, visit fs.usda.gov/shawnee.

Here's what you might see if you visit Snake Road during the migration:

alee.quick@thesouthern.com

618-351-5807

On Twitter: @the_quickness​ / On Facebook: facebook.com/alee.quick

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