Discover Maryland's Herps

Field Guide to Maryland's Snakes (Order Squamata)

Sub-order Serpentes, Family Colubridae

Northern Brownsnake
Storeria d. dekayi

Illustration showing the presence of an incomplete cream-colored collar on the juvenile northern brownsnake.

Northern Brownsnake Adult, Photo by Scott A. Smith
Photo of Adult Northern Brownsnake courtesy of Scott A. Smith

Size

9 - 13 inches. Record - 19⅜ inches.

Appearance

  • Two parallel rows of black spots down a yellowish-brown, gray, dark brown or reddish brown back.
  • The area between the spots is lighter than the rest of the body, almost forming a stripe.
  • A thin dark line extends from the back of the head behind the eye to the base of the jaw.
  • Keeled scales.
  • Belly cream to gray with tiny dark dots at the edges.
  • Young have a yellow collar around the neck.
  • Northern Brownsnake Adult, Photo by John White
    Photo of Adult Northern Brownsnake courtesy of John White

    Northern Brownsnake Juvenile, Photo by John White
    Photo of Juvenile Northern Brownsnake courtesy of  John White

    Habitats

    Any type of moist (mesic) woods, grasslands, bogs, swamps, freshwater marshes, old fields, urban parks and backyards.

    How to Find

    A secretive nocturnal species. Look under any coarse woody debris and trash on field-woodland and wetland edges. This is a non-venomous species that is gentle when handled.

    Northern Brownsnake Habitat, Photo by Andy Becker
    Photo of Habitat for Northern Brownsnake courtesy of Andy Becker

    Distribution in Maryland

    Found throughout Maryland including urban areas.

    Maryland Distribution map for Northern Brownsnake

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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.