Snakes are an essential component to the forest ecosystem. They fill a variety of predator niches and are necessary for a balanced food web. In total there are twenty-one species of snake in Pennsylvania but only three are venomous. The venomous species that can be found at Lacawac are the copperhead and the timber rattlesnake. Some common nonvenomous snakes at Lacawac are the eastern garter, ringneck and black rat snake.
Snakes are vertebrates meaning they have a backbone. Their bodies are covered with scales just like turtles and lizards and other reptiles. Reptiles are coldblooded, meaning their body temperature depends on their surroundings. This is why snakes love rocky environments. They will bask in the sun when they need to raise their body temperature and move into the shade when they need to lower it. Basking isn’t just important for a snake's body temperature, it is also vital for digestion and egg development.
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