redbelly snake

(Storeria occipitomaculata)

Conservation Status

IUCN Red List

LC - Least Concern


No Image Available


N5 - Secure

S5 - Secure


not listed




Moist woodlands and areas adjacent to moist woodlands, lumber piles, trash dumps.


Up to 4 years in captivity


7 to 10



This is a small, nonvenomous, snake, the smallest snake found in Minnesota. Adults can be 7 to 16 in length at maturity, though in the Upper Midwest they are described as being no more than 10 long.

Seen from above, these snakes are highly variable in appearance. They can be chestnut brown, olive-brown, tannish-brown, grayish-brown, gray, or black, but they fall generally into two color “phases”. The brown phase is brown to reddish brown or tan above (dorsally) with a broad pale mid-dorsal stripe bordered with narrow darker stripes. The gray phase has a medium gray background; a broad, light or medium gray mid-dorsal stripe bordered by narrow darker stripes; and a similar dark stripe on each side above the belly scales. The brown phase is the most common. Rarely, an individual will be mostly black. The belly is usually bright red. It is sometimes orange, salmon-colored, or pink, but it is always unmarked. The northern redbelly snake has three pale spots at the nape of the neck, one above and one on each side. The Black Hills redbelly snake has small faint spots or no spots at all. The head is usually darker than the rest of the body above and white below with a white neck.

The upper (dorsal) and lateral scales have a narrow, pale, raised ridge (keel) along the centerline. There are 15 rows of dorsal and lateral scales on the midbody. The anal plate is divided.

Males and females are equal in size but females have slightly longer tails.


Texas brown snake (Storeria dekayi texana) can be up to 18 long. The middorsal stripe is bordered with a row of black spots. The belly is cream-colored or pinkish-white.


Mostly slugs, earthworms, and snails, but also insect larvae and pill bugs

Life Cycle

Adults usually mate in the spring or early summer. The female gives live birth to usually 7 or 8 but up to 23 live young. The offspring become sexually mature in their second year. In the winter they hibernate with other snakes, often with other species of snakes, below the frost line in ant hills, animal burrows, and building foundations.


Individuals hide from predators under logs, rocks, and leaf litter.

Distribution Distribution Map  

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





Squamata (amphisbaenians, lizards, and snakes)



Serpentes (snakes)






Colubridae (colubrids, typical snakes)




Subordinate Taxa

Black Hills redbelly snake (Storeria occipitomaculata pahasapae)

Florida redbelly snake (Storeria occipitomaculata obscura)

northern redbelly snake (Storeria occipitomaculata occipitomaculata)


Coluber occipitomaculatus


red-bellied snake

redbelly 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.



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  Red-bellied Snake (Storeria occipitomaculata)
Andree Reno Sanborn
  Red-bellied Snake (Storeria occipitomaculata)  




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Other Videos

  Northern Red Bellied Snake Nature Walks with Mark Fraser

Uploaded on May 1, 2010

The "Northern" Red Bellied Snake is a beautiful subspecies of the Red Belly and are truly incredible snakes. They have become perfectly adapted to life in the north country and make their living in the forests and meadows looking for their prey. They feed on Snails,slugs and worms and are a tiny species easily recognizable by their beautiful red underbelly. They don't usually get more then a couple feet in length. This species hibernates to survive the harsh northern winter conditions and then returns in the spring. They are a gentle snake and do not bite and are not harmful. They themselves are actually prey to many other species like birds and mammals however their population numbers are fine and they are doing very well in their northern habitats. This is a species thats a real benefit to your garden since they feed on slugs that could otherwise potentially eat the green foliage. They are a beautiful snake and a real treat to get to know please look out for these little guys and when you see them please be careful they are very sensitive species being so very small. I'm Mark Fraser and thank you so very much for watching! If you would like to check out more exciting adventures exploring the amazing wildlife all around us please visit my website

  Northern Red-bellied Snake (Colubridae: Storeria occipitomaculata)
Carl Barrentine

Uploaded on Sep 6, 2009

Photographed at the Rydell NWR, Minnesota (06 September 2009).

  Northern Red-bellied Snake (Colubridae: Storeria occipitomaculata)
Carl Barrentine

Uploaded on Sep 6, 2009

Photographed at the Rydell NWR, Minnesota (06 September 2009).

  Northern Red-bellied Snake

Published on May 27, 2012

Northern Red-bellied Snake
(Storeria occipitomaculata)

Description: The redbellied snake is a small woodland snake, ranging from 4 - 10 in (10 - 25 cm) long. This species is one of our most variably-colored snakes, with some individuals ranging from bright orange to brown, gray, or nearly black. Occasionally individuals are found that are gray with a brown or orange stripe down the center of the back. Many individuals have a light brown ring behind the head. This species can easily be distinguished from all other small woodland snakes by their unmarked bright orange to red underside.

Range and Habitat: Redbellied snakes are found throughout the eastern US, but are absent from peninsular Florida. This species can be found in a variety of woodland habitats but in the Coastal Plain is most common in or around the margins of small wetlands. In the Mountains they are often found in open habitats such as fields and mountain balds. Although the closely-related brown snake (Storeria dekayi) adapts well to suburban habitats, this species is usually most commonly associated with forested habitats in our region.

Habits: Redbellied snakes are generally very secretive and can be found hiding under logs, rocks, and leaf piles. They feed nearly exclusively on slugs. Redbellied snakes breed in the spring or fall and females give birth to 4 -- 9 (but up to 23) young, in summer. They probably reach sexual maturity within 3 years. Research at the Savannah River Ecology Lab has shown that this species tracks the changing boundaries of wetlands as they fill and dry, probably following areas where the most slugs are found. When threatened this species rarely bites but adopts a bizarre lip-curling behavior.

Conservation Status: Redbellied snakes are common in some areas but uncommon to rare in others. They are not protected in our region.





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