Squamata

Field Guide to Maryland's Snakes (Order Squamata)


Family Colubridae

Common Ribbon Snake

Common Name:

Common Ribbon Snake


Scientific Name:

Thamnophis sauritus 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.​

Common Ribbonsnake - Distribution in Maryland