Illinois Natural History Survey News

blog navigation


blog posts

  • Serpents of the Badlands

    What's it like to hunt for sunning serpents with the wind whistling in your ears? Find out in this Behind the Scenes story by INHS conservation biologist Mark Davis.

  • Digitization efforts make wealth of INHS collections more accessible

    INHS is home to over 9 million biological specimens, including plants, insects, fish, reptiles, and fossils. Learn how we're digitizing these specimens to make them accessible to everyone.

  • Snake Road sojourn

    INHS Conservation Biologist Mark Davis describes his journey along Snake Road in the Shawnee National Forest in search of snakes, frogs, salamanders, and other creatures in the wild.

  • Illinois team tackles mysterious disease afflicting wild and captive snakes

    Researchers in the Illinois Natural History Survey are investigating every aspect of snake fungal disease, hoping to find a treatment.

  • Six new rattlesnake species in Western United States

    In a recently published paper, INHS Conservation Geneticist Mark Davis and colleagues recommended elevating several rattlesnake subspecies to full species status. The team collected data from 3000 individuals, measuring physical characteristics and analyzing genetic samples.

  • New paper published on Ophidiomyces ophiodiicola, the fungus causing snake fungal disease

    A new paper by INHS affiliate Matthew Allender, INHS Graduate student Daniel Raudabaugh and Mycologist Andrew Miller was published on Ophidiomyces ophiodiicola, the causative agent of snake fungal disease. This a serious emerging fungal pathogen of North American-endemic and captive snakes and has been a factor in the decline of the Eastern Massasauga in Illinois. Watch a video about the Illinois Natural History Survey's research on the Eastern Massasauga and Ophidiomyces 

  • Chris Phillips interviewed about venomous snakes

    INHS Herpetologist Chris Phillips was interviewed by the News Gazette in response to a reader's question "Are there any reports of venomous snakes and snakebites in Champaign County in the last 10 years? Last 100 years?” More information on INHS research on Massasaugas

  • Alligator Snapping Turtle featured in Environmental Almanac

    The Alligator Snapping Turtle reintroduction project was featured in this week's Environmental Almanac. Not seen in Illinois in 30 years, INHS researchers are working to re-establish populations of these massive turtles.

  • Multi-state effort to return Alligator snapping turtle populations to native range

    Illinois Natural History Survey herpetologists, led by Michael Dreslik, are involved in a multi-state, multi-agency effort to return the Alligator Snapping Turtles (Macrochelys temminckii) to its native range, which includes southern Illinois. INHS researchers are working with IIllinois DNR, US Fish and Wildlife, Peoria Zoo, and Southern Illinois University. As part of the head-starting portion of the project, students at Pontiac Township High School and Whitney Young High School have helped raise young turtles born at the St. Louis Zoo.

  • INHS researchers collaborate with U of I Vet Med to detect fungus in snakes

    INHS Research Affiliate Matt Allender (a professor in the College of Veterinary Medicine) has developed a way to detect the presence of a deadly fungus with less impact on the infected snake. INHS Mycologist Andrew Miller and his graduate student Dan Raudabaugh are working to understand the fungus itself. This work is being done in conjunction with the long-term INHS research project on the critically endangered Eastern Massasauga Rattlesnake. INHS Herpetologists Chris Phillips and Mike Dreslik have been studying the ecology of the snakes for over 15 years.

  • Junior high students add to our knowledge of biodiversity in Illinois

    Junior High students are once again adding to our knowledge of biodiversity in Illinois. Prairie Central Junior High Science teacher Scott Saffer and his seventh grade students conduct herpetological field surveys each year in Livingston County. After catching and identifying reptiles and amphibians, the students have their finds confirmed by INHS Herpetologists Andrew Kuhns and Chris Phillips. This year the students found three more species not previously documented in Livingston County.

  • Rare rattlesnake sighting in Carrollton, Illinois

    A timber rattlesnake was found dead on the road near Carrollton, Illinois, which according to INHS Herpetologist Chris Phillips was a "little bit shocking."

  • End to live turtles in the Turtle Races

    For the past 49 years, box turtles have been collected from the wild and brought to Danville for the annual Turtle Reunion and Races, a charity event. This has been a concern to herpetologists, including INHS Herpetologist Chris Phillips and U of I Wildlife Veterinarian Matt Allender (an INHS Affiliate), for several reasons including the possibility of spreading diseases. The two scientists have been collaborating on a long term study of the health of box turtles in Vermilion County. They have been testing for diseases including ranavirus, a contagious disease with high mortality that is also a threat to amphibians.