northern brownsnake

(Storeria dekayi dekayi)


This is a small snake that grows to lengths of 9-13 in. (23-33 cm). The body and tail is light brown or gray to dark brown or nearly black with a longitudinal series of small, paired, black spots. The area between the spots is lighter than the rest of the body, forming a tan stripe down the center of the back. Juveniles are uniform dark brown to black dorsally, with a narrow cream to yellow collar on the neck. This snake is viviparous (bears live young). Mating occurs from late March through May with a gestation period of 105-113 days. Virginia females bear litters of 3-26 young. This is a common snake in suburban yards and urban parks, but it is very secretive. It is non-poisonous and does not bite.


Vouchered records for this species in Virgnia lie east of the Blue Ridge Mountains, except for one each in Alleghany, Bath, and Washington counties. Northern brownsnakes are terrestrial, secretive, and seldom found in the open. They are nocturnal, but most often found under surface objects such as boards, trash of all sorts, logs and rocks. Their microhabitat may be described as the soil-humus layer. Habitats include hardwood forests, mixed hardwood-pine forests, pine woods, grasslands, early successional stages of abandoned agricultural land, woodlots, and urban areas. Hibernation sites include ant mounds and abandoned rodent burrows.


This species eats earthworms, slugs, spiders, and (rarely) small amphibians. They also may consume small fish and insects.