Species Profile

Queensnake

Scientific Name: Regina septemvittata
Other/Previous Names: Queen Snake
Taxonomy Group: Reptiles
COSEWIC Range: Ontario
COSEWIC Assessment Date and Status Change: April 2010
COSEWIC Status: Endangered
COSEWIC Status Criteria: B2ab(ii,iii,iv,v); C2a(i)
COSEWIC Reason for Designation: This species has a restricted and shrinking distribution in southwest Ontario. It consists of scattered small populations which are isolated due to habitat fragmentation and the species’ limited dispersal capacity. Over the last decade, the number of extant locations has declined and the species’ riparian and riverine habitat has continued to be lost and degraded. The species is limited by its extremely specialized diet and threatened by decline in its prey of freshly moulted juvenile crayfish. Other threats include persecution and effects of invasive Zebra Mussels and Common Reed.
COSEWIC History of Status Designation: Designated Threatened in April 1999. Status re-examined and confirmed in May 2000. Status re-examined and designated Endangered in April 2010.
SARA Status: Schedule 1, Endangered
Date of Listing (yyyy-mm-dd): 2003-06-05

Please note that this information is provided for general information purposes only. For the most up to date and accurate list of species listed under the Species at Risk Act, please see the Justice Laws Website.

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Quick Links: | Photo | Description | Distribution and Population | Habitat | Biology | Threats | Protection | Recovery Initiatives | Recovery Team | National Recovery Program | Documents

Image of Queensnake

Queensnake Photo 1
Queensnake Photo 2

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Description

The Queensnake is a slender, medium sized, semi–aquatic snake. Its average snout–vent length is about 40–50 cm, with total length averaging 40 to 60 cm to a maximum of about 90 cm. The dorsal colour is brown or dark olive with three narrow black stripes running down the midline and along each side. The belly is pale yellow or cream with four dark brown to black longitudinal stripes, often becoming mottled with age. (Updated 2017/05/30)

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Distribution and Population

The Queensnake is relatively widespread in eastern North America, ranging from southeastern Pennsylvania, western New York and southwestern Ontario, west to southeastern Wisconsin and south to the Gulf Coast from the Florida panhandle to eastern Mississippi. The Canadian range is highly localized and sporadic and is restricted to southwestern Ontario. The Queensnake occurs west of the Niagara Escarpment, from the northern portion of the Bruce Peninsula, south to Lake Erie and west to Essex County. (Updated 2017/05/30)

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Habitat

Queensnakes are most commonly associated with rocky streams and rivers, but are also occasionally found in marsh, pond, and lake shore habitats. This highly aquatic species is usually found within 3 m of the shoreline and only at sites where there is an abundance of crayfish, its primary food source. (Updated 2017/05/30)

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Biology

Queensnakes feed almost exclusively on freshly moulted crayfish. In Ontario, they are generally active from late April to late September and likely hibernate communally. In parts of the U.S., female Queensnakes reach sexual maturity in 3 years, and males in 2 years. Mating can occur in either spring or early autumn. The Queensnake is viviparous, with 5 to 23 young usually being born in late August or September. (Updated 2017/05/30)

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Threats

Loss, fragmentation and degradation of habitat and decline in prey abundance represent the most significant threats to Queensnakes in Ontario. The narrow fringe of riparian habitat necessary for Queensnakes’ survival has been greatly reduced in both quality and quantity. Urbanization surrounding riparian habitat has decreased water quality and increased fortification of banks, water diversion and removal, spread of exotic vegetation, and threats from human presence. In agricultural areas, livestock with free access to riverbanks, farming to the edge of waterways, and clearing of vegetation and debris along shorelines have further degraded shoreline and aquatic habitats and added silt and contamination from increased erosion. Natural and artificially induced plant succession (non–native species), most notably of large woody vegetation and invasive Phragmites, has also reduced habitat quality and abundance at historic Queensnake sites. Additionally, direct human persecution and accidental mortality through human recreational activities further contribute to losses. The Queensnake’s specialized diet makes it exceptionally vulnerable to declines in prey (crayfish) populations. Any factors that negatively impact crayfish will similarly affect Queensnakes. In many areas, the larger non–native Rusty Crayfish (Orconectes rusticus) is displacing native crayfish, though the impact of this introduced crayfish on Queensnakes is currently unknown. Similarly, occupation of Queensnake habitat by Zebra Mussels (Dreissena polymorpha), Round Goby (Neogobius melanostomus), Common Carp (Cyprinus carpio) and invasive, non–native vegetation may threaten some populations. (Updated 2017/05/30)

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Protection

Federal Protection

The Queensnake is protected under the federal Species at Risk Act (SARA). More information about SARA, including how it protects individual species, is available in the Species at Risk Act: A Guide.

Provincial and Territorial Protection

To know if this species is protected by provincial or territorial laws, consult the provinces' and territories' websites.

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Recovery Initiatives

Status of Recovery Planning

Recovery Strategies :

Name Recovery Strategy for the Queensnake (Regina septemvittata) in Canada
Status First posting on SAR registry

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Recovery Team

Queen Snake Recovery team

  • Scott Gillingwater - Chair/Contact - Conservation organization (NGO)
    Phone: 519-451-2800  Fax: 519-451-1188  Send Email

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Documents

PLEASE NOTE: Not all COSEWIC reports are currently available on the SARA Public Registry. Most of the reports not yet available are status reports for species assessed by COSEWIC prior to May 2002. Other COSEWIC reports not yet available may include those species assessed as Extinct, Data Deficient or Not at Risk. In the meantime, they are available on request from the COSEWIC Secretariat.

15 record(s) found.

Reports on the Progress of Recovery Document Implementation

COSEWIC Status Reports

  • COSEWIC assessment and status report on the Queen Snake (Regina septemvittata) in Canada (1999-05-01)

    The Queen Snake (Regina septemvittata) is a slender, moderately sized, semi-aquatic snake. Its dorsal ground colour is brownish olive with three narrow black stripes running longitudinally down the midline and along each side on the fifth and sixth scale rows. The belly is pale yellow with four dark longitudinal stripes.
  • COSEWIC Assessment and Status Report on the Queensnake Regina septemvittata in Canada (2010-09-03)

    The Queensnake is a slender, medium sized, semi-aquatic snake. Its average snout-vent length is about 40-50 cm, with total length averaging 40 to 60 cm to a maximum of about 90 cm. The dorsal colour is brown or dark olive with three narrow black stripes running down the midline and along each side. The belly is pale yellow or cream with four dark brown to black longitudinal stripes, often becoming mottled with age.

COSEWIC Assessments

  • COSEWIC Assessment Summary and Status Report: Queensnake Regina septemvittata (2010-09-03)

    Assessment Summary – April 2010 Common name Queensnake Scientific name Regina septemvittata Status Endangered Reason for designation This species has a restricted and shrinking distribution in southwest Ontario. It consists of scattered small populations which are isolated due to habitat fragmentation and the species’ limited dispersal capacity. Over the last decade, the number of extant locations has declined and the species’ riparian and riverine habitat has continued to be lost and degraded. The species is limited by its extremely specialized diet and threatened by decline in its prey of freshly moulted juvenile crayfish. Other threats include persecution and effects of invasive Zebra Mussels and Common Reed. Occurrence Ontario Status history Designated Threatened in April 1999. Status re-examined and confirmed in May 2000. Status re-examined and designated Endangered in April 2010.

Response Statements

  • Response Statement - Queensnake (2010-12-02)

    This species has a restricted and shrinking distribution in southwest Ontario. It consists of scattered small populations which are isolated due to habitat fragmentation and the species’ limited dispersal capacity. Over the last decade, the number of extant locations has declined and the species’ riparian and riverine habitat has continued to be lost and degraded. The species is limited by its extremely specialized diet and threatened by decline in its prey of freshly moulted juvenile crayfish. Other threats include persecution and effects of invasive Zebra Mussels and Common Reed.

Recovery Strategies

  • Recovery Strategy for the Queensnake (Regina septemvittata) in Canada (2016-08-05)

    The Minister of the Environment and the Minister responsible for the Parks Canada Agency are the competent ministers for the recovery of the Queensnake and have prepared the federal component of this recovery strategy (Part 1), as per section 37 of SARA. It has been prepared in cooperation with the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry. SARA section 44 allows the Minister to adopt all or part of an existing plan for the species if it meets the requirements under SARA for content (sub-sections 41(1) or (2)). The Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources (now the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry) led the development of the attached recovery strategy for the Queensnake (Part 2) in cooperation with Environment Canada and the Parks Canada Agency.

Action Plans

  • Multi-species Action Plan for Bruce Peninsula National Park and Fathom Five National Marine Park of Canada (2016-11-22)

    Bruce Peninsula National Park (BPNP) and Fathom Five National Marine Park (FFNMP) lie at the tip of the Bruce Peninsula which separates Georgian Bay from Lake Huron. The peninsula is 90 km in length and its most prominent feature is the Niagara Escarpment which runs along the entire eastern edge. Within BPNP, the escarpment forms the Georgian Bay shoreline and is recognized as part of the core area of the Niagara Escarpment UNESCO World Biosphere Reserve.  BPNP was established by the federal government in 1987 to protect a representative example of the Great Lakes/St. Lawrence Lowlands natural region. Because of the fragmented nature of the park properties, many of the stresses on the park’s ecosystem originate from outside its boundaries. For this reason, First Nations, local residents, non-governmental organizations, and other groups and land users play an important role in managing, restoring, and protecting the northern Bruce ecosystem. 

Orders

  • Order Acknowledging Receipt of the Assessments Done Pursuant to Subsection 23(1) of the Act (volume 145, number 23, 2011) (2011-11-09)

    His Excellency the Governor General in Council, on the recommendation of the Minister of the Environment, hereby acknowledges receipt, on the making of this Order, of assessments conducted under subsection 23(1) of the Species at Risk Act by the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada with respect to the species set out in the annexed schedule.
  • Order Amending Schedule 1 to the Species at Risk Act (volume 146, number 14, 2012) (2012-07-04)

    The purpose of the Order Amending Schedule 1 to the Species at Risk Act is to add 18 species to Schedule 1, the List of Wildlife Species at Risk (the List), and to reclassify 7 listed species, pursuant to subsection 27(1) of SARA. This amendment is made on the recommendation of the Minister of the Environment based on scientific assessments by the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada (COSEWIC) and on consultations with governments, Aboriginal peoples, stakeholders and the Canadian public.

COSEWIC Annual Reports

  • COSEWIC Annual Report - 2010 (2010-09-03)

    Under Canada’s Species At Risk Act (SARA), the foremost function of COSEWIC is to “assess the status of each wildlife species considered by COSEWIC to be at risk and, as part of the assessment, identify existing and potential threats to the species”. During the past year, COSEWIC held two Wildlife Species Assessment Meetings and reviewed the status of 79 wildlife species (species, subspecies, populations). During the meeting of November 2009, COSEWIC assessed or reviewed the classification of the status of 28 wildlife species. COSEWIC assessed or reviewed the classification of an additional 51 wildlife species (species, subspecies and populations) during their April 2010 meeting. For species already found on Schedule 1 of SARA, the classification of 32 species was reviewed by COSEWIC and the status of the wildlife species was confirmed to be in the same category (extirpated - no longer found in the wild in Canada but occurring elsewhere, endangered, threatened or of special concern). The wildlife species assessment results for the 2009-2010 reporting period include the following: Extirpated: 6 Endangered: 39 Threatened: 16 Special Concern: 17 Data Deficient: 1 This report transmits to the Minister the status of 46 species newly classified as extirpated, endangered, threatened or of special concern, fulfilling COSEWIC’s obligations under SARA Section 24 and 25. A full detailed summary of the assessment for each species and the reason for the designation can be found in Appendix I of the attached report. Since its inception, COSEWIC has assessed 602 wildlife species in various risk categories, including 262 Endangered, 151 Threatened, 166 Special Concern and 23 Extirpated. In addition, 13 wildlife species have been assessed as Extinct. Also, to date, 46 wildlife species have been identified by COSEWIC as Data Deficient and 166 wildlife species were assessed as Not at Risk. This year has been a particularly productive year for COSEWIC’s Aboriginal Traditional Knowledge (ATK) Subcommittee. In April 2010 COSEWIC approved the Aboriginal Traditional Knowledge Process and Protocol Guidelines, providing clear and agreed principles for the gathering of Aboriginal Traditional Knowledge to carry out COSEWIC functions as required under Section 15(2) of SARA (See Appendix III of the attached report). We are grateful for the rich and enthusiastic contribution made by community elders and experts in helping the ATK Subcommittee prepare the ATK protocols.

Permits and Related Agreements

  • Explanation for issuing permit(#20), persuant to the provisions of section 73 of SARA (2006-05-25)

    The work involves the monitoring of Northern Map Turtle, Eastern Spiny Softshell Turtle, Eastern Fox Snake, Queen Snake and Butler's Garter Snake. Specimens to be live captured, examined, and released in situ. Specimens not to be injured, killed or removed.
  • Explanation for issuing permit(#44602), persuant to the provisions of section 74 of SARA (2021-04-01)

    The activity will involve qualified personnel capturing known Queensnake habitat within Bruce Peninsula National Park. Actions will include turning over rocks (followed by carefully returning them to original orientation), capturing, handling and measuring Queensnakes, as well as taking a blood sample from each snake in order to help determine population and genetic health. In order to reduce re-capture of individuals, snakes will have a mark painted on their tails with dark non-toxic nail polish which will not harm or affect their breeding, foraging and predator evasion success.

Consultation Documents

  • Consultation on Amending the List of Species under the Species at Risk Act: Terrestrial Species – November 2010 (2010-12-02)

    As part of its strategy for protecting wildlife species at risk, the Government of Canada proclaimed the Species at Risk Act (SARA) on June 5, 2003. Attached to the Act is Schedule 1, the list of the species that receive protection under SARA, also called the List of Wildlife Species at Risk. Please submit your comments by February 4, 2011 for species undergoing normal consultations and by February 4, 2012 for species undergoing extended consultations.

Critical Habitat Descriptions in the Canada Gazette

Recovery Document Posting Plans

  • Environment and Climate Change Canada's Three-Year Recovery Document Posting Plan (2016-07-06)

    Environment and Climate Change Canada’s Three-Year Recovery Document Posting Plan identifies the species for which recovery documents will be posted each fiscal year starting in 2014-2015. Posting this three year plan on the Species at Risk Public Registry is intended to provide transparency to partners, stakeholders, and the public about Environment and Climate Change Canada’s plan to develop and post these proposed recovery strategies and management plans. However, both the number of documents and the particular species that are posted in a given year may change slightly due to a variety of circumstances. Last update December 2, 2021
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