SIU Department Name | Page Title

siu logo siupress logo

SIU logo


Main Content Area

Snake Road

Snake Road

A Field Guide to the Snakes of LaRue--Pine Hills

Add to Cart

Joshua J. Vossler


E-book (Other formats: Paperback)
355 illustrations

Shawnee Books


Additional Materials

  • Table of Contents
  • News / Publicity

Table of Contents

Table of Contents


About the Book

Visiting the mecca of snake watching

Twice a year, spring and fall, numerous species of reptiles and amphibians migrate between the LaRue–Pine Hills’ towering limestone bluffs and the Big Muddy River’s swampy floodplain in southern Illinois. Snakes, especially great numbers of Cottonmouths, give the road that separates these distinct environments its name. Although it is one of the best places in the world to observe snakes throughout the year, spring and fall are the optimal times to see a greater number and variety. Among the many activities that snakes can be observed doing are sunning themselves on rocks, lying in grasses, sheltering under or near fallen tree limbs, or crossing the road. In this engaging guide, author Joshua J. Vossler details what to expect and how to make the most of a visit to what is known around the world as Snake Road.

Vossler catalogs twenty-three native snake species by both common and scientific names, lists identifying features, and estimates the probability of spotting them. Throughout this book, stunning color photographs of each species’ distinctive physical characteristics enable identification by sight only, an important feature, since Illinois law prohibits the handling, harming, or removal of reptiles and other wildlife on and around the road. Since snakes are visually variable—individual snakes of the same species can differ tremendously in size, color, and pattern—photographs of as many variations as possible are included. To aid in identification, eleven sets of photographs contrast the features of similar species and point out how and why these snakes may be easily confused. Visitors can keep track of the snakes they have identified by using the checklist in the back of the book. A list of recommended reading provides sources of additional information about snakes in southern Illinois and beyond.


Joshua J. Vossler, an associate professor and academic librarian at Southern Illinois University Carbondale, is the coauthor of Humor and Information Literacy: Practical Techniques for Library Instruction. He specializes in making instructional videos about research skills. He is a lifelong snake watcher and herpetological enthusiast.  


"I absolutely love how this field guide is organized. . . . What Vossler came up with is not only unique, but extremely user friendly for a novice herpetologist."—Dustin SiegelHerpetological Review

"Profusely illustrated, impressively informative, exceptionally 'user friendly' in organization and presentation, Snake Road: A Field Guide to the Snakes of LaRue-Pine Hills is an ideal and unreservedly recommended DIY identification guide—and a critically important selection for personal, professional, community, college, and university library herpetology collections and supplemental curriculum studies lists."—James A. Cox, Midwest Book Review

“Joshua J. Vossler’s book of photos allows us to travel Illinois’s famous Snake Road through the La Rue Swamp without worrying about mosquitoes, ticks, poison ivy, biting flies—or snakes. Slither and let slither!”—Herbert K. Russell, author, The State of Southern Illinois
“The LaRue–Pine Hills area is one of our favorite 'day trip' spots, and we unreservedly recommend that visitors take Vossler's book along to enhance this unique experience. Go and enjoy a ‘snaky’ day!”—Larry P. and Donna J. Mahan, authors, 20 Day Trips in and around the Shawnee National Forest