Discover Maryland's Herps

Field Guide to Maryland's Snakes (Order Squamata)

Sub-order Serpentes, Family Colubridae

Common Ribbonsnake
Thamnophis s. sauritus

Photo of Common Ribbon Snake courtesy of John White
Photo of Common Ribbon Snake courtesy of John White

Size

18 - 26 inches. Record - 38 inches.

Appearance

  • A very slim snake with a distinctively narrow delicate neck, brown-capped head and very long tail.

  • Three bright yellow or cream stripes run the length of the brown to nearly black body.

  • The middle or centerline stripe may be greenish.

  • The belly is an unmarked greenish to blue-gray.

  • Scales keeled.

  • Close-up Photo of Common Ribbon Snake courtesy of John White
    Close-up Photo of Common Ribbon Snake
    courtesy of John White

    Habitats

    This is a semi-aquatic species, typically found in or near streams, ponds, bogs, swamps, fresh and brackish marshes, and woodlands adjacent to wetlands.

    How to Find

    Walk wetland edges. Look for them on the ground or on trees, bushes or tall grasses overhanging the water. This agile snake will flee rapidly into thick shoreline vegetation, so you have to be quick! Non-venomous, but difficult to handle due to its nervous nature.

    Photo of Habitat for Common Ribbon Snake courtesy of Tony Prochaska
    Photo of Habitat for
    Common Ribbon Snake
    courtesy of Tony Prochaska

    Distribution in Maryland

    Found statewide but less common in western Maryland.

    Maryland Distribution Map for Common Ribbon Snake

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    Maryland Amphibian
    and Reptile Atlas Project

    "A Joint Project of the Natural History Society of Maryland, Inc. and the Maryland Department of Natural Resources"

    For monthly newsletters of the Maryland Amphibian & Reptile Atlas Project click on Recent Newsletters and scroll down to the MARA Newsletters.

    The Maryland Herpetology Field Guide is a cooperative effort of the MD Natural Heritage Program and the MD Biological Stream Survey within the Department of Natural Resources and their partners. We wish to thank all who contributed field records, text, and photographs, as well as support throughout its development.