eastern ribbon snake (Thamnophis sauritus sauritus)
CHARACTERISTICS: This is a very slender snake with a tail that
makes up more than one-fourth of the total length. The adult has a
dorsal pattern of three bright yellow stripes on a dark background.
The belly is plain yellow or greenish-yellow. This species is about 7
inches at birth and grows to about 36 inches. Juveniles are patterned
as adults but are brown with bright yellow or white stripes. The brown
dorsal color darkens with age. The female gives birth to as many as 20
live young in mid to late summer.
DISTRIBUTION: This snake is found from the Blue Ridge Mountains
and parts of the Valley and Ridge physiographic region east to, and in-
cluding, the Eastern Shore. Thamnophis sauritus is semiaquatic, inhabit-
ing a wide variety of habitats, including freshwater and brackish marshes,
grassy floodplains, streams, and ditches with grass and brush margins,
wet areas in meadows, spagnum bogs, and woodlands adjacent to wet-
lands. The primary requirement appears to be accessibility to permanent
or semipermanent water. It prefers areas that are well vegetated with
cattails, grasses, shrubs, and other plant life that offer good traction for
quick escapes. This snake is frequently found basking on branches of
trees, bushes, or grasses overhanging the water.
FOODS: This snake eats frogs, salamanders, toads, small fish and leeches.
Most predation occurs at night and prey are swallowed alive.
Crooked Run Valley