Dekay’s brown snake

(Storeria dekayi)

Conservation Status
Dekay’s brown snake
  IUCN Red List

LC - Least Concern


N5 - Secure

S4 - Apparently Secure


not listed


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.




9 to 18


Similar Species


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.


Open grasslands near a woodland and near water




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.




7 years


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.




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


Distribution Map



4, 7, 14, 24, 29, 30, 74, 76, 78.





  Class Reptilia (reptiles)  
  Superorder Lepidosauria  
  Order Squamata (snakes and lizards)  
  Suborder Serpentes (snakes)  
  Infraorder Alethinophidia  
  Superfamily Colubroidea  


Colubridae (colubrid snakes)  




Storeria (American brown snakes)  

Subordinate Taxa


Four subspecies were previously recognized. A recent study of the genus Storeria (Pyron et al., 2016) determined that the subspecies were defined by qualitative variation in color pattern, that these patterns smoothly intergrated across huge geographical areas, and thus subspecies recognition is not warranted. The former subspecies are now considered synonyms.




Tropidonotus dekayi


Common Names


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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Jen Kwasny


Brown snake?

Seen today in Mankato, MN – wasn’t sure if it was a brown snake or not.

  Dekay’s brown snake  

Mike B.

    Dekay’s brown snake      



moved a propane tank that had been sitting under our camper and found this little guy.

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

Babette Kis


Dekay's brown snake Storeria dekayi

Dekay's brown snake, photographed on gravel roadside at Barnes Prairie, Racine Co., WI on Sept. 16, 2017.

  Dekay’s brown snake  
        Dekay’s brown snake  



found coming out of the shower

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



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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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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  Jen Kwasny

Location: Mankato, MN

Seen today in Mankato, MN – wasn’t sure if it was a brown snake or not.

Dekay’s brown snake

  John Valo

Yes, this is a Dekay’s brown snake. The two rows of small black dots on the back are diagnostic.


Location: Blackhoof Lake, Ironton, MN

moved a propane tank that had been sitting under our camper and found this little guy.

Dekay’s brown snake

  Ruth Jackson

Location: 4 miles south of St. Cloud


  Mike B.

Location: Sherburne County

Dekay’s brown snake  

Location: The Woodlands, TX (Houston suburb)

found coming out of the shower

Dekay’s brown snake

  Babette Kis

Location: Barnes Prairie, Racine Co., WI

… photographed on gravel roadside at Barnes Prairie, Racine Co., WI on Sept. 16, 2017.

Dekay’s brown snake





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