queen snake

(Regina septemvittata)


This is a small, slender aquatic snake with a relatively small, narrow head and a yellow stripe along the lower sides of the body. The body is brown to gray, sometimes with three indistinct darker lines and the belly is usually off-white but may be brownish and marked with four dark brown lines. Juveniles are colored and patterned like the adults. The dark ventral stripes are usually narrow but widen with age. Mating occurs in spring and fall, and females bear 5-13 live young in August and September. Unlike most water snakes of the genus Nerodea, it is not a savage biter but tends to be docile. This snake is diurnal (active during daylight hours). Populations in the Piedmont are at risk from siltation and damming of streams.


Regina septemvittata is found in the Piedmont and western portions of Virginia. It is frequently found basking on branches overhanging shallow, rocky streams in agricultural, urban, and forested areas, often with open patches that allow sunlight to reach the substrate. Loose rocks, used for shelter, and overhanging vegetation are usually present.


This snake is a predator of crayfish, consuming only those which have recently shed their exoskeletons.