redbelly snake

(Storeria occipitomaculata)

Conservation Status
redbelly snake
Photo by Dan W. Andree
  IUCN Red List

LC - Least Concern

 
  NatureServe

N5 - Secure

S5 - Secure

 
  Minnesota

not listed

 
           
 
Description
 
 

Redbelly snake 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.

 
     
 

Size

 
 

7 to 10

 
     
 

Similar Species

 
  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.  
     
 
Habitat
 
 

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

 
     
 
Biology
 
 

Behavior

 
 

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

 
     
 

Lifespan

 
 

Up to 4 years in captivity

 
     
 

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.

 
     
 

Food

 
 

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

 
     
 
Distribution
 
 

Distribution Map

 

Sources

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

 
  9/28/2021      
         
 

Occurrence

 
 

Common

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

Family

Colubridae (typical snakes)  
 

Subfamily

Natricinae  
 

Genus

Storeria (American brown snakes)  
       
 

Subordinate Taxa

 
 

Black Hills redbelly snake (Storeria occipitomaculata pahasapae)

Florida redbelly snake (Storeria occipitomaculata obscura)

northern redbelly snake (Storeria occipitomaculata occipitomaculata)

 
       
 

Synonyms

 
 

Coluber occipitomaculatus

 
       
 

Common Names

 
 

red-bellied snake

redbelly snake

 

 

 

 

 

 

Glossary

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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Rick Schneider

 
 

Red belly snake

I met this little guy this afternoon on the trail just west of Rice Lake behind 3593 Turner Drive SW in Prior Lake. It was quite docile. I saw it had the distinctive red belly so I believe it is a red belly snake.

  redbelly snake  
 

Dan W. Andree

 
 

Red-bellied snake...

I seen it near Sandpiper Prairie SNA rural Norman County Mn. 9-26-21. Nice little snake it didn’t even try crawl off my hand or try get away.

Just sat there until I put down on the ground then I coaxed it off the road back into the grass.

  redbelly snake  
           
        redbelly snake  
           
 

Red-bellied snake...

Cute little snake. Sometimes snakes will emit an unpleasant odor if threatened by a predator or even human but this little red-belly didn’t and also didn’t seem to mind letting me photograph it. I like this little snake.

  redbelly snake  
 

Natalie Welle

 
 

such a sweetie

 
    redbelly snake      
 

Amber Paniaqua

 
    redbelly snake   redbelly snake  
 

Bill Reynolds

 
 

While mowing today, I just happened to notice movement in the grass.

I immediately recognized the snake as the Northern Redbelly snake. As a child, I would catch tons of these in south central St. Louis MN. So, after turning off the mower, it took me a few moments to catch the little guy. After all, I didn't want to injure him.

I took a number of photos displaying it's head, belly and back. This little guy was just a tad longer than 5.6 inches long.

  redbelly snake  
           
    redbelly snake   redbelly snake  
           
    redbelly snake      
           
 
MinnesotaSeasons.com Photos
 
 

 

 
           

 

Camera

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

 

slideshow

       
 
Visitor Videos
 
       
 

Share your video of this reptile.

 
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Natalie Welle

 
  redbelly snake 01
May 23, 2021
 
   
 
About

such a sweetie

   
       
 
Other Videos
 
  Northern Red Bellied Snake Nature Walks with Mark Fraser
nwwmark
 
   
 
About

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 http://www.naturewalkswithmark.org

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

Uploaded on Sep 6, 2009

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

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

Uploaded on Sep 6, 2009

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

 
  Northern Red-bellied Snake
TheSnakeLibrary
 
   
 
About

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.

 

 

Camcorder

 
 
Visitor Sightings
 
           
 

Report a sighting of this reptile.

 
  This button not working for you?
Simply email us at info@MinnesotaSeasons.com.
Be sure to include a location.
 
  Rick Schneider
10/10/2021

Location: Prior Lake, MN

I met this little guy this afternoon on the trail just west of Rice Lake behind 3593 Turner Drive SW in Prior Lake. It was quite docile. I saw it had the distinctive red belly so I believe it is a red belly snake.

redbelly snake

 
  Dan W. Andree
9/26/2021

Location: rural Norman County Mn.

I seen it near Sandpiper Prairie SNA rural Norman County Mn. 9-26-21. Nice little snake it didn’t even try crawl off my hand or try get away.

Just sat there until I put down on the ground then I coaxed it off the road back into the grass.

redbelly snake

 
  Natalie Welle
5/21/2021

Location: Leech Lake Band of Ojibwa Chippewa Forrest

such a sweetie

redbelly snake

 
  Jett Wolters
8/202020

Location: near Judson, MN

we have this snake in a cage if you want to see it, we plan to let it go, we were trying to figure out what kind of snake it is.  Is it legal for us to keep it or must we let it go?

 
  John Valo
8/23/2020

Legal? Yes.

A good idea? Probably not.

Here is what the Minnesota DNR has to say.

Keeping a wild snake as a pet

Most snakes in Minnesota are considered unprotected wild animals, except those listed as endangered or threatened, and may be kept for pets if legally obtained or collected (Note - It is often unlawful to collect wildlife on many types of city, county, state, or federal lands without a permit, typically issued only for scientific or educational purposes). The DNR discourages the collection of wild-caught snakes for pets. Captive-bred snakes are widely available in pet stores, and often fair better in a captive environment. The Minnesota Herpetological Society  (link is external) can provide you with care information. An alternative to collecting snakes as pets is to enjoy these fascinating creatures in the wild. To learn more, see Snakes and Lizards of Minnesota  PDF.

— Living with snakes; Minnesota Department of Natural Resources

 
  Amber Paniaqua
8/5/2020

Location: Biskey Trail ( north of Duluth, near Fish Lake)

redbelly snake

 
  Dan W. Andree
9/15/2019

Location: Sandpiper Prairie SNA, rural Norman Co. MN

Cute little snake. Sometimes snakes will emit an unpleasant odor if threatened by a predator or even human but this little red-belly didn’t and also didn’t seem to mind letting me photograph it. I like this little snake.

redbelly snake

 
  Bill Reynolds
6/9/2017

Location: Pennington Co. MN

While mowing today, I just happened to notice movement in the grass.  I immediately recognized the snake as the Northern Redbelly snake.  As a child, I would catch tons of these in south central St. Louis MN.   So, after turning off the mower, it took me a few moments to catch the little guy.  After all, I didn't want to injure him.

I took a number of photos displaying it's head, belly and back.  This little guy was just a tad longer than 5.6 inches long.

redbelly snake

 
           
 
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