A small snake, usually less than 15 inches (38 cm) long. Smooth scales. Dorsal coloration is bluish gray to black with a cream or yellowish ring around the neck. Ventral coloration is yellow, orange or sometimes red (especially posteriorly). Belly may have small black dots down the center.
Lays a small number of eggs (1 to 3) under rotting logs in early summer. Eggs hatch within 2 months and the young closely resemble the adults, but with slightly brighter neck rings.
Occurs under rocks and rotting logs in wooded areas with moist soil. Usually found at edges of woods or where the canopy does not completely shade the soil. Found in same habitat as Red-backed Salamanders and termites. Abandoned log piles or plywood at the edge of a woodland are frequently used by this species.
Feeds on soft-bodied invertebrates, smaller snakes, frogs and small salamanders, especially Red-backed Salamanders.
Found in the northeastern United States from Illinois to the Atlantic coast of New Jersey; north along the coast to Nova Scotia, and from northeastern Alabama to southern Ontario. It occurs in all New England states and is found in every Connecticut county.
Not federally protected. Common and abundant in Connecticut.
One of the most common species of snake in Connecticut.
Conant, R. and J.T. Collins. 1991. A Field Guide to Reptiles and Amphibians: Eastern/Central North America. Boston: Houghton Mifflin. 450 pp.
Klemens, M.W. 1993. Amphibians and Reptiles of Connecticut and Adjacent Regions. Hartford, CT: State Geological and Natural History Survey of Connecticut Bulletin 112. 318 pp.
Text by Gregory J. Watkins-Colwell.
Photographs © Twan Leenders. All rights reserved. Used by permission.
Animals featured on this page are from Connecticut.