ILLINOIS (WEHT) – The eastern milksnake is now the official snake of Illinois.

The Governor’s Office says House Bill 4821 came from Gentry Heiple, a 7th grader at Carterville Junior High School. Gentry was inspired to advocate for this legislation after reaching out to State Rep. Dave Severin (R-Benton) to ask about how a bill becomes a law. Gentry did all the research and decided on the eastern milksnake. He presented his idea to the House of Representatives State Government Administration Committee who gave unanimous consent.

“I truly enjoyed working with Gentry and his mother on this project,” said State Representative Dave Severin (R-Benton). “Gentry had the idea, did all the research, and bravely presented his idea to the House State Government Administration Committee. I am especially pleased that this bill is receiving the Governor’s signature, and that my office was able to help facilitate connecting a local student to the legislative process.”

The press release says the eastern milksnake is found all across Illinois and ranges from 24 to 36 inches in length, has smooth scales, large blotches with brown or black borders, and a y- or v-shaped mark on its head. It is not a poisonous snake and are even bred as pets.

“I decided to do this bill to try and highlight the good and importance of snakes all over,” said Gentry Heiple. “And by doing this I was able to visit the capitol and meet some of the most important people in Illinois. And I am very grateful and appreciative of all the people who supported me and voted yes on the bill. I was surprised to see the amount of people with such fear be so intrigued and supportive of this snake bill.”

More officially designated state flora and fauna can be found on the Illinois DNR website.