Snakes Of The U.S., Canada And Baja California Snakes Of The U.S., Canada And Baja California: Eastern Ribbon Snake or Common ribbon snake, Thamnophis sauritus sauritus

Common name: Eastern Ribbon Snake or Common ribbon snake

Species name: Thamnophis sauritus sauritus

venomous ?
Non-venemous

Description: The Eastern Ribbon Snake gets its name from its very thin body. At maturity it can be anywhere from 18 to 86 cm in length. (Kingsbury 2007) It is a slender black snake with a yellow midback stripe and one on each side. A brown stripe that is 1-2 rows of scales extends onto the sides of the belly. The rest of the belly is a greenish white color. They also have two rows of black spots between the back and side stripes. It also has a long tail that is about a third of the length of its body.(Mayer 2003) The labial scales around the mouth of the snake are unmarked and uniformly bright yellow or white. A white or light yellow bar borders the front of their eyes. (Kingsbury 2007) The Eastern Ribbon Snake has pure white lips and a mark of White color in front of its eyes. These characteristics make it easy to tell the difference between the snakes but it may help to have one of each on hand to look at (Crowe 2006). Eastern Ribbon Snake (below left) has a dot in front of its eye, whereas the Garter Snake (below right) does not.

Distribution: Eastern ribbon snakes are found throughout the eastern US, but are absent from much of the Appalachian Mountains. In our region, they are found in the Piedmont and Coastal Plain, but become progressively more common from the Mountains to the Coast. T. s. sackenii is found in southern portions of our region and throughout most of Florida. Ribbon snakes are semiaquatic and are frequently found at the edges of lakes, bogs, and salt marshes.

Habitat: HabitatsThe Eastern Ribbon Snake is typically found in the Northeastern United States and Southeastern Canada. You can usually find them in wetlands and near the edges of ponds and streams. (Kenney 2007) They are comfortable both in and out of water, they are adapted to both environments. When they are frightened they take to the water or bushes.They do not dive like water snakes, they glide across the surface of the water.

Foods: The Ribbon Snake generally eat small fish, tadpoles, salamanders, small frogs and toads, and occasionally insects. In some cases the female has been observed eating her young

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(Image by LaVonne)
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