Click for more images

Red-bellied Snake

Storeria occipitomaculata

Family: Colubridae

COSEWIC status:
  • Not Assessed
SARA status:
  • No Status
IUCN status:
  • Least Concern


The Red-bellied Snake is brown, red, grey or black and generally has two dark stripes down the back and two along the sides. The top of the head is usually brown or red. This snake usually has light spots on the neck, which may fuse to form a partial ring. The belly is usually red but may be red-orange or pink. The chin is lightly coloured and is often off-white. This species grows to a maximum length of about 40 cm. The dorsal scales are keeled (ridged down the centre), and the anal plate is divided.

Similar Species

No other snake in Canada has a bright red belly. The Ring-necked Snake has a well-defined yellow ring around the neck rather than an agglomeration of spots, and also has smooth dorsal scales and a yellow belly. The Dekay’s Brownsnake has a light brown to light pink belly and light dorsal stripe with two rows of dark spots down its back.


Click for larger image

In Canada the Red-bellied Snake occurs from southeastern Saskatchewan east to Nova Scotia with a break in the range north of Lake Superior. This species also occurs throughout the eastern United States as far West as South Dakota and south to Texas and Florida.


Red-bellied Snakes are generally found in forest clearings, fields and meadows with abundant ground cover, such as logs and rocks. These snakes overwinter underground below the frost line in mammal burrows, rock crevices or other cavities.


Red-bellied Snakes breed in the spring or sometimes in the fall and females give birth to 4–14 live young in late summer. The newborn snakes are 7–10 cm in length and mature in two years. Little is known about the longevity of this species. Red-bellied Snakes are nocturnal and eat invertebrates such as slugs, earthworms, snails, grubs and insects. Red-bellied snakes help to control populations of these garden pests. This species will threaten potential predators by exposing its bright red belly or flattening itself and curling the edges of its mouth outward.


Threats to Red-bellied Snakes include predation by larger snakes, raccoons and pets, habitat loss and road mortality. The Red-bellied Snake seems able to tolerate some disturbance and alteration to its habitat.

Additional Information About This Species In Canada