Uploaded on Jun 29, 2011
Eastern Ribbon Snake
Description: 18-40" (45.7-101.6 cm). A slender, streamlined garter snake. 3 bright, well-defined stripes usually contrast sharply with dark back and sides. Side stripe involves 3rd and 4th scale rows. A dark, brownish stripe runs along margin of belly scales. Lip scales and belly unmarked. Tail very long, about a third of snake's total length. Scales strongly keeled, in 19 rows. Anal plate single.
Subspecies: Common (T. s. sauritus), reddish-brown back, yellow side stripes, yellow- or green-tinged orange back stripe; s. Indiana, s. and e. Pennsylvania, se. New York, and s. New Hampshire, south to n. side of Lake Pontchartrain, Louisiana, Florida panhandle and South Carolina.
Blue-striped (T. s. nitae), velvety black or dark brown back, pale blue side stripes; Gulf coast of Florida, Wakulla County to Withlacoochee River.
Peninsula (T. s. sackenii), tan or brown back; light narrow side stripes; lustrous tan back stripe; extreme s. South Carolina, se. Georgia, and peninsular Florida.
Northern (T. s. septentrionalis), velvety black or dark brown back, yellow side stripes, yellow back stripe often masked with brown pigment; s. Ontario, Michigan and s. Maine to c. New Hampshire, c. Pennsylvania, and s. Indiana.
Breeding: Mates in spring. Live-bearing. 3-26 young, 7-9" (18-23 cm) long, are born July to August, mature in 2-3 years.
Habitat: Wet meadows, marshes, bogs, ponds, weedy lake shoreline, swamps, and shallow, meandering streams.
Range: East of the Mississippi River: Michigan, s. Ontario, and s. Maine, south to the Florida Keys and se. Louisiana. Isolated colonies inhabit ne. Wisconsin and c. Nova Scotia.
Discussion: Semiaquatic; almost always encountered in low wet places. Likes to bask in bushes. When startled it takes to water. Unlike water snakes, which dive, ribbon snakes glide swiftly across the water's surface. They feed on frogs, salamanders, and small fish.
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