Illinois State Snake

7th Grader's School Project Helps Give Illinois Its Official State Snake

Illinois has everything from an official bird (the northern cardinal) to an official tree (the white oak) and even an official snack (popcorn), but until an intrepid student had the idea, the state didn’t have an official snake.

That all changed on Thursday when Gov. J.B. Pritzker signed legislation designating the eastern milksnake as the official serpent of the Land of Lincoln.

According to a press release, 7th-grade student Gentry Heiple, who attends Carterville Junior High School, advocated for the legislation with Republican State Rep. Dave Severin as part of a project to learn more about state government.

“I decided to do this bill to try and highlight the good and importance of snakes all over,” Heiple said. “And by doing this, I was able to visit the capitol and meet some of the most important people in Illinois.”

According to officials, the eastern milksnake can be found all across Illinois, living in river bottoms, rocky hills and in woodlands. It can reach 2-to-3 feet in length, and it has large blotches and a y- or v-shaped marking on its head.

Eastern milksnakes are not poisonous, and can be bred as pets, according to officials.

“I couldn’t be prouder of our young Illinoisians, like Gentry Heiple, who have gotten involved in our state’s legislative process,” Pritzker said in a statement. “I am honored to sign this bill into law. Gentry, may you continue to use your voice to advocate for change.”

In case you’re looking to impress friends, here are some official Illinois animals and plants that have been given special designations by lawmakers:

State Animal – White-tailed Deer

State Amphibian – Eastern Tiger Salamander

State Bird – Northern Cardinal

State Fish – Bluegill

State Flower – Violet

State Insect – Monarch Butterfly

State Reptile – Painted Turtle

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