Storeria Occipitomaculata – Redbelly Snake

A red-brown redbelly snake found in Missouri

Storeria occipitomaculata, the redbelly snake is a small, dark brown , grey or black snake with a red, orange or bright yellow belly. It is found in the Eastern United States and is nonvenomous.

Description

The body of the red-bellied snake can take on a wide range of colors from dark brown to red-brown, gray or sometimes even black. Its belly is a bright orange-red. When it feels threatened, the snake turns over parts of its body to reveal the bright red warning color to scare potential predators away. Its neck is decorated with three light, often yellow spots. In the Florida redbelly subspecies, these spots are often fused together, forming a lighter-colored neck collar. The back of the head often has numerous small red dots.

Storeria Occipitomaculata - Redbelly Snake information
The characteristic red belly of the redbelly snake. Photo: Fyn Kynd

Depending on the snakes coloration, it can be confused with the nonvenomous DeKay’s brown snake or the harmless ringnecked snake.

Size

The redbelly snake is a small snake. Adults reach a size of up to 12 inches (30 cm).

Storeria Occipitomaculata - Redbelly Snake brown grey snake with red belly small
While on the ground, the red belly is not visible. The snake can best be identified by the yellowish coloring behind its head. Photo: Fyn Kynd

Diet an Habitat

The redbelly snake nests under tree trunks, wood piles, wooded or open ground. It feeds mainly on earthworms and slugs and spends a lot of time underground or hidden under leaves or rocks.

A red-brown redbelly snake found in Missouri
A light-colored redbelly snake in its defensive position. The posterior part of the body is turned around to show the red warning color. Photo: Flickr

Bite

The redbelly snake is a harmless and nonvenomous snake. Due to its size, biting is not a defense mechanism for the snake when a larger predator approaches. Therefore, the snake is hesitant to bite even if handled by humans. When the snake feels threatened, it turns over to its belly to display its red warning color. In the rare cases where a redbelly snake bites a human, its causes little to no discomfort.

Subspecies of the redbelly snake

Currently, there are three subspecies of the redbelly snake. All three are found in the United States:

  • Storeria occipitomaculata occipitomaculata – Northern redbelly snake (most common, found throughout the Eastern United States and Canada)
  • Storeria occipitomaculata obscura – Florida redbelly snake (found in the Southeastern United States)
  • Storeria occipitomaculata pahasapae – Black Hills redbelly snake (less common)

Geographic range

All three subspecies of the redbelly snake occur in Southeastern Canada as well as in the Eastern United States in Minnesota, Iowa, Nebraska, eastern Kansas, eastern Oklahoma, South Dakota, North Dakota, eastern Texas, Missouri, Arkansas, Louisiana, Wisconsin, Wyoming, Illinois, Michigan, Indiana, Ohio, Kentucky, Tennessee, Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia, northern Florida, South Carolina, North Carolina, Virginia, West Virginia, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland, New Jersey, New York, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Vermont, southern New Hampshire, Rhode Island and southern Maine.

Scientific classification of Storeria occipitomaculata

  • Kingdom: Animalia
  • Phylum: Chordata
  • Class: Reptilia
  • Order: Squamata
  • Suborder: Serpentes
  • Family: Colubridae
  • Genus: Storeria
  • Species: Storeria occipitomaculata
Storeria Occipitomaculata – Redbelly Snake

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