Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Native Species Profile - Brown Snake (Storeria dekayi)

Michigan is home to seventeen species of snakes.  Most of them are rarely encountered.  In the past two years, I have seen only six of the seventeen species in the wild (Common Garter Snake, Butler's Garter Snake, Northern Ribbon Snake, Northern Water Snake, Eastern Hognose Snake, and Brown Snake).  Of those six species, the two that I have seen most frequently are the Common Garter Snake and the Northern Ribbon Snake.

The third most frequent snake that I encounter is the Brown Snake (Storeria dekayi).  As the name implies, the Brown Snake is normally colored some shade of brown with some individuals being gray-brown or tan.  Other distinctive markings include a cream or pink belly and two rows of black dots on opposite sides of the back.  The color between the two rows of black markings is often lighter than on its sides.  Young Brown Snakes often have light gray or white ring around their necks.

Brown Snake - note brown color, row of black dots, and light color on back

Brown Snakes are typically generally small, with most individuals being between 9 and 15 inches long.  Rarely they will approach two feet in length.

A young Brown Snake resting inside my ballcap

Because of their small size, Brown Snakes concentrate on eating small animals.  Their typical diet includes worms, slugs, and snails.  They have also been known to eat grubs, beetles, and small salamanders.  I would expect that large individuals may also eat small frogs and other small vertebrates.

Brown Snake are small - normally measuring less than 15 inches.

Brown Snakes can be found in a variety of habitats including woodlands, wetlands, and suburban areas.  One way to attract Brown Snakes to a property is to provide them with boards or other suitable objects to hide under.  In Michigan they can be found throughout the Lower Peninsula and parts of the Upper Peninsula.  Overall they can be found throughout the United States east of the Rocky Mountains,  southern Canada, and northern Mexico.

Basic Information

Brown Snake
Storeria dekayi

Size:  9-23” long 

Habitat:  wetlands, fields, prairies, forests, agricultural lands, suburban areas, etc.
Eats:  worms, slugs, snails, grubs, small salamanders

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