Northern Red-bellied Snake

Scientific Name: Storeria occipitomaculata occipitomaculata
Size: 8 – 16” (adult total length)
Status: Locally common.

Habitat:
Deciduous or mixed forest and adjacent fields, pastures, marshes, and bogs. Prefer moist soils but will occupy drier sites. Can be found in urban or suburban areas under artificial cover objects.

Adult Coloration:
Brown, reddish brown, or gray with a typically bright red belly. Belly color can range from pink, orange or light yellow to gray or black (though darker colors rare). Back may be solid colored or have two or four thin dark stripes. Sometimes there is a faint light central stripe. Top of head dark brown or reddish, and chin and throat white. Usually light spot behind and below the eye and three light tan or yellow spots on the neck. Spots may merge to form light collar or may be altogether absent.

Juvenile Characteristics:
Newborns can be 2.8 – 4.3” in length and tend to be darker on the back and paler on the belly than adults.

Species Confused With:
Brown Snakes are about the same size, but have paler bellies and 17 scale rows at the midbody. Kirtland’s Snakes have two rows of black spots down the belly. Garter and ribbon snakes have paler bellies and single anal plates. Northern Ring-necked Snakes, also small, have unkeeled scales.

Adult Gallery:

References:

  • Amphibians and Reptiles of the Great Lakes Region by Jim Harding
  • Harding, J.H. and J.A. Holman. 2006. Michigan Snakes. MSU Extension Ext. Bulletin E-2000,74 pp. [revised].
  • Ruthven, A. G., H. B. T. Gaige, et al. 1912. The herpetology of Michigan, by Alexander B. Ruthven. Crystal Thompson and Helen Thompson; Memoranda towards a bibliography of the archaeology of Michigan, by Harlan I. Smith; prepared under the direction of Alexander G. Ruthven. Lansing, Mich., Wynkoop Hallenbeck Crawford, State Printers.
  • Holman, J. A. 2012. The Amphibians and Reptiles of Michigan: A Quaternary and Recent Faunal Adventure. Detroit, Mich., Wayne State University Press.
  • Conant, R., and Collins, J. T. 1998. Reptiles and Amphibians: Eastern, Central North America. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Press.

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