Dekay’s brown snake

(Storeria dekayi)

Conservation Status

IUCN Red List

LC - Least Concern

Dekay’s brown snake


N5 - Secure

S4 - Apparently Secure


not listed




Open grasslands near a woodland and near water


7 years


9 to 18


Dekay’s brown snake is a small, nonvenomous, snake, the second smallest snake found in Minnesota. Adults may be 9 to 18 in length at maturity, though they average 12 and are rarely more than 15 in length. Females are slightly larger than males.

The background color is reddish-brown. A pale stripe on the upper back (mid-dorsal) runs the length of the body. This stripe is bordered on each side by a row of black spots. The upper (dorsal) and lateral scales have a narrow, pale, raised ridge (keel) along the centerline. There are either 15 or 17 rows of dorsal and lateral scales.

The belly is cream-colored or pinkish-white and is unmarked except for very small black spots at the ends of the belly (ventral) scales. The anal plate is divided. Underneath the tail there are two rows of scales (subcaudal scales).

The head is darker than the body. Two dark brown vertical stripes below the eye extend to the jaw line, and there is usually a dark stripe behind the eye. Only two scales separate the eye and the nasal opening—there is no loral scale and the postnasal scale touches the preocular scale.

Juveniles have a light, grayish ring around the neck.


Redbelly snake (Storeria occipitomaculata) is smaller, no more than 10 long. The pale dorsal stripe is not bordered with rows of black spots. The belly is bright red or salmon colored.


Earthworms, slugs, snails, soft-bodied insects, and rarely tadpoles and small frogs.

Life Cycle

Mating occurs from March through May. Gestation takes 105 to 113 days. In July and August females give birth to 3 to 20, usually at least 10, live young. Newborn snakes are 3½ to 4½ long. Juvenile mortality is high but snakes that reach adulthood will usually live about seven years. Males and females reach sexual maturity in two years. They overwinter in anthills, rock crevices, road embankments, and bridges.


The adult is active during the day.

When threatened it will strike repeatedly, but its bite is neither venomous nor painful. Its mouth is not big enough to bite humans.

It is often found by turning over rocks or boards.

Distribution Distribution Map  

Sources: 7, 11, 14, 24, 29, 30, 74.





Squamata (amphisbaenians, lizards, and snakes)



Serpentes (snakes)






Colubridae (colubrids, typical snakes)




Subordinate Taxa

marsh brown snake (Storeria dekayi limnetes)

midland brown snake (Storeria dekayi wrightorum)

northern brown snake (Storeria dekayi dekayi)

Texas brown snake (Storeria dekayi texana)


Tropidonotus dekayi


brown snake

Dekay’s brown snake

Dekay’s brownsnake

Dekay’s brown snake








Anal plate

In snakes: the large scale in front of and covering the anus. In turtles: one of the posterior plates of the lower shell (plastron). In Lepidoptera: the often hardened shield on the dorsal surface of the last (10th) segment of the abdomen.



The single posterior cavity, often called the vent, that serves as an opening for the release of intestinal waste, urinary waste, and sperm in most vertebrates (except most mammals) and some invertebrates.

Visitor Photos
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James Folden

found on Sakatah bike trail

  Dekay’s brown snake   Dekay’s brown snake
Mark Oeltjenbruns
  Dekay’s brown snake    
Katie Goulet
  Dekay’s brown snake    

found coming out of the shower

  Dekay’s brown snake    
Mike D

Located along Hwy 210 by Rice lake in Brainerd, MN

  Dekay’s brown snake    
  Dekay’s brown snake   Dekay’s brown snake
  Dekay’s brown snake   Dekay’s brown snake



  Northern Brown Snake (Storeria dekayi dekayi)
Bill Keim
  Northern Brown Snake (Storeria dekayi dekayi)  
  Storeria Dekayi Dekayi (Northern Brown Snake)

Uploaded on Jun 19, 2009

just some pics and info on Northern Brown Snakes, hope it's some help to some people. enjoy! :)




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Katie Goulet
  Dekay’s brown snake 01
May 3, 2020

Dekay’s brown snake (Storeria dekayi)

Hibbing MN, 4/30/2020

Video by Katie Goulet

Other Videos
  Northern Brown Snake Storeria dekayi
Mark Khosravi

Published on Sep 1, 2012

  Dekay’s brown snake

Uploaded on Aug 2, 2011

Dekay’s brown snake
(Storeria dekayi)

Description: 10-20 3/4" (25.4-52.7 cm). Small; gray, yellowish-brown, brown, or reddish-brown, with 2 parallel rows of small dark spots bordering an indistinct wide light back stripe. Belly pale yellow, brown, or pinkish with small black dots along edges. Young have yellowish collar. Scales keeled, in 17 rows. Anal plate divided.

Subspecies: Seven; 4 in our range. Wide zones of intergradation occur between races.
Northern (S. d. dekayi), vertical or diagonal dark bar on temporal scale on side of head usually extends through 6th and 7th lip scales; s. Maine and s. Quebec to Virginia. Intergrades with Midland from Michigan to Carolinas.
Marsh (S. d. limnetes), horizontal dark bar on temporal scale, 6th and 7th lip scales unmarked; coastal marshes; Colorado Co., Texas, east through Louisiana, Mobile Bay and Pensacola.
Texas (S. d. texana), no bar on temporal scale; large blotch on nape of neck extends downward to belly scales; Minnesota to Texas, south into Mexico.
Midland (S. d. wrightorum), similar to Northern, except parallel spots fused by narrow crossbands; Illinois and Indiana south to s. Mississippi, s. Alabama, and sw. Georgia. Intergrades with Texas in c. Wisconsin, e. Illinois, w. Missouri, Arkansas, and Louisiana.

Breeding: Live-bearing. Mates spring and fall; 3-31 young, 3 1/4-4 1/2" (8-11 cm) long, are born June to September.

Similar Species: Florida Brown Snake (S. victa), formerly considered a subspecies of Dekay's, has 15 scale rows (all Dekay's have 17) and a light band across head; it occurs from se. Georgia to the Florida Keys.

Habitat: Moist upland woodland to lowland freshwater and saltwater marshes; margins of swamps, bogs and ponds; vacant lots, gardens, golf courses.

Range: S. Maine, s. Quebec, and s. Minnesota, south to Florida panhandle, and through Texas and Mexico to n. Honduras.

Discussion: Diurnal, but nocturnal in warm weather. Hides under flat rocks, logs, or trash. Usually found near water or damp places. Feeds on earthworms, slugs and snails. Large numbers may congregate to hibernate together.

  Herping With Dylan: Dekay's Brownsnake
Herping With Dylan

Uploaded on Apr 8, 2008

This small snake is a regular along the road we were walking along, unfortunately as they make their way across the road many do not make it to the other side.

These snakes have live birth and mate April through May, so in the coming weeks we may see many newborns in that area.

  Brown Snake (Storeria dekayi) on the Spring Valley Trail - Ancaster, Ontario
Mike Karschti

Published on May 21, 2013

A Brown snake (Storeria dekayi) I found on a hike on the Spring Valley trail in Ancaster, Ontario.

Storeria dekayi, commonly known as the brown snake or De Kay's snake, is a small species of colubrid snake. It is native to Southern Ontario and Quebec, most of the eastern half of the United States, through Mexico, Guatemala, Honduras, and possibly El Salvador.

Dorsally it is brown to gray with a lighter center stripe bordered by small black spots; ventrally it is lighter brown or pink with small black dots at the ends of the ventral scales.[5] Adults usually measure less than 12 inches (30 cm), but the record size is 192⁄8 inches (49 cm). It has keeled dorsal scales, and no loreal scale.

Like other Natricine snakes (such as watersnakes, genus Nerodia; and gartersnakes, genus Thamnophis), Storeria dekayi are ovoviviparous.

It eats earthworms, slugs, snails, and most other small insects.

The specific name, dekayi, is in honor of American zoologist James Ellsworth De Kay (1792--1851), who collected the first specimen in Long Island, New York, while the generic name, Storeria, honors zoologist David Humphreys Storer. This is the only North American snake whose binomial is a double honorific - that is, both the generic name and the specific name honor people.

  Northern Brown snake (Storeria dekayi dekayi)
chris egnoto

Published on Jun 20, 2014

Here are several brown snakes that I found in Bucks County Pennsylvania. You can clearly see some of the variations among individuals of the same species. Always a happy find while herping.

(thumbnail photo ©Christopher Egnoto




Visitor Sightings
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James Folden

Location: SW corner Waseca County on the Sakatah bike trail

found on Sakatah bike trail

Dekay’s brown snake

Ruth Jackson

Location: 4 miles south of St. Cloud

Mark Oeltjenbruns

Location: Claremont MN

Dekay’s brown snake

Katie Goulet

Location: Hibbing, MN

Dekay’s brown snake


Location: The Woodlands, TX (Houston suburb)

found coming out of the shower

Dekay’s brown snake

Mike D

Location: Brainerd, MN

Located along Hwy 210 by Rice lake in Brainerd, MN

Dekay’s brown snake





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