Storeris dekayi, commonly called the (American) brown snake or Dekay’s snake is a small non-venomous snake that can be found in the Eastern United States, Canada, Mexico as well as other countries in Central America.
As its common name suggests, its predominant body color is brown. It can either be a lighter yellow-brown or gray-brown. Especially younger snakes often have a grey color which turns There is one broad, lighter band on the back and on both sides a row of dark spots that sometimes fuse into thin stripes. Younger animals have a grayish-white band around the neck. The underside is yellowish brown to white and often has two rows of dark spots on either side, the head is quite small, oval and pointed, the eyes are very large and have a dark eye environment. The scales are strongly keeled, unlike some other snake species that resemble this species.
Juvenile specimen often have a lighter crossband behind their neck. Therefore, they are often confused with the ring-necked snake. Other similar-looking species are the smooth earth snake, the rough earth snake and the worm snake. None of them are venomous.
With an average size of adult specimen of just over 12 inches (around 30 cm), the brown snake is a relatively small snake species found in the United States. The largest ever recorded brown snake was just under 20 inches (50 cm). It is an ovoviparious snake, meaning that it gives birth to live offspring (instead of eggs). The new-born are about 4 inches (11 cm) long.
The brown snake mostly feeds on earthworms and slugs while larger specimens sometimes eat frogs and fish. Brown snakes are excellent swimmers and are often found in or around water, hunting for small animals. The brown snake is mostly active during the day. But, during hot summer months the snake becomes nocturnal and rests during the day, probably to avoid the heat. In the colder winter months, the snake goes into hibernation.
The brown snake is a very docile snake. Even when it is disturbed, it doesn’t bite humans or larger animals. When it is grabbed and feels attacked, it excretes a musk-like scent from the cloaca which usually makes attackers flee quickly because of the terrible stench. It is a nonvenomous snake and due to its size, it doesn’t post any threat to humans or pets.
This snake species lives in humid, shady areas, usually near water. They can be found along forest edges, in swamps and grasslands with lots of vegetation on the ground to hide in.
Brown Snake range in the USA
The brown snake can be found in the eastern United States in southern Minnesota, Iowa, Southeastern Nebraska, Kansas, Oklahoma, Eastern Texas, Missouri, Arkansas, Louisiana, Wisconsin, Illinois, Michigan, Indiana, Ohio, Kentucky, Tennessee, Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia, Florida, South Carolina, North Carolina, Virginia, West Virginia, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland, New Jersey, New York, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Vermont, Southern New Hampshire and Southern Maine.
Scientific classification of Storeria dekayi
- Kingdom: Animalia
- Phylum: Chordata
- Class: Reptilia
- Order: Squamata
- Suborder: Serpentes
- Family: Colubridae
- Genus: Storeria
- Species: Storeria dekayi
Subspecies of Storeria dekayi and their range
There are seven subspecies of the brown snake. All of them have a similar appearance with brown as their predominant color. These are the subspecies of brown snakes:
- Storeria dekayi anomala
- Storeria dekayi dekayi – northern brown snake
- Storeria dekayi limnetes – marsh brown snake
- Storeria dekayi temporalineata
- Storeria dekayi texana – Texas brown snake
- Storeria dekayi tropica
- Storeria dekayi wrightorum – midland brown snake