northern redbellied snake (Storeria occipitomaculata
CHARACTERISTICS: The adult is usually brown above but may vary
from gray to nearly black, with four indistinct dark stripes and/ or a broad
light stripe on the back. The belly is usually bright red with no markings.
There are three pale spots on the neck which may connect to form a collar.
The juvenile is similar to the adult. They are about 3 inches at birth and
grow to a maximum of 16 inches. The female bears up to 21 live young
during July or August. This snake will not bite when handled, but may
emit musk from glands at the base of the tail, curl the upper lips exposing
the black mouth, and may even play dead. Redbellied snakes are
secretive, nocturnal, and terrestrial.
DISTRIBUTION: This species apparently occurs throughout Virginia,
with the exception of the barrier islands, despite the lack of verified
observations in some areas. This species is found in wooded areas,
particularly where there are rocks, logs, or other cover. Habitats may
be moist or dry, ranging from the edges of swamps and bogs to well
drained, rocky hilltops. The debris around old barns and abandoned
houses often support colonies of this little snake. They can be found
under all manner of surface objects, such as rocks, logs, boards, debris,
bark, and leaves. These snakes overwinter in anthills, in unused rodent
burrows, and in soil containing crevices and passageways.
FOODS: This snake eats insects, earthworms, slugs and occasionally,
Crooked Run Valley