northern brown snake (Storeria dekayi dekayi)
CHARACTERISTICS: 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-poison-
ous and does not bite.
DISTRIBUTION: 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.
FOODS: This species eats earthworms, slugs, spiders, and (rarely) small
amphibians. They also may consume small fish and insects.
Crooked Run Valley