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Fragile Legacy

Endangered, Threatened & Rare Animals of South Dakota

Northern Redbelly Snake (Storeria occipitomaculata occipitomaculata)

JPG--species photo species distribution map
Note: The species photo shown here is that of a Black Hills Redbelly Snake, which is similar in appearance to the Northern Redbelly Snake.

Status: State Threatened

Description: This species is a small (8-10 inches, 200-250 mm) woodland snake that is gray or reddish brown in color. It usually has four narrow dark stripes on its back and one faint stripe running down the middle of the back. The head is usually darker than the body with a tan collar at the base of the neck composed of several light spots. The belly may be yellow, orange, red or pink.

Habitat and Habits: The northern redbelly snake occurs in moist woodlands with adequate cover of rocks, logs, tree bark or leaf litter. This snake feeds on slugs, earthworms and soft-bodied insects. A livebearer, the female gives birth to 2-21 young (7-9 average) during late summer or early fall. This species is inactive from November through March or April.

Distribution: This species is found from Nova Scotia to southeastern Saskatchewan, south to southeastem Texas and central Florida. It has been documented from eastern South Dakota in Brookings, Codington, Day, Deuel, Grant, Hamlin, Lincoln, Minnehaha and Roberts Counties. A second subspecies of redbelly snake occurs in South Dakota. The Black Hills redbelly snake (Storeria occipitomaculata pahasapae) is found in the Black Hills of South Dakota and Wyoming.

Conservation Measures: The northern redbelly snake is a shy, gentle, harmless snake that is sometimes needlessly killed because of its resemblance to a young copperhead. There is little available habitat for the northern redbelly snake in South Dakota, and areas known to support this species should be protected.

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