Amphibians

Reptiles

Midland Brownsnake (Storeria dekayi wrightorum)

Description

This small, fossorial species is variable in coloration, but is usually shades of brown and/or gray. A lighter vertical stripe runs down the back with short crossbars connecting two rows of dots. The patterning resembles a zipper and gradually fades to a uniform color toward the tail. Dark spots occur below each eye and on the temporal region. The belly coloration is cream.

The influence of the Texas Brownsnake (S. d. texana) may be seen in more westerly species.

Superficially, this species resembles the Red-bellied Snake (Storeria occipitomaculata), but has dark--rather than light--spots on the head and a cream--rather than red (sometimes yellow)--belly.

This species was once referred to as a DeKay's Snake in honor of a naturalist from New York named James Edward DeKay.


Habitats

This species may be found in a variety of moist environments, especially forest floors that have plenty of leave litter. It is not uncommon to find them inhabiting bark mulch around flowerbeds.


Habits and Life History

This nocturnal, secretive species is rarely seen exposed, but may be uncovered from a hiding place.

This species presumably follows an activity pattern similar to other snakes. Emergence from hibernation occurs in early spring, followed almost immediately by a breeding season. Females give birth to live young (not eggs) in late summer to early fall.


Prey and Hunting Techniques

The preferred diet of this species includes earthworms, slugs, and soft-bodied insects. They are able to extract land snails from their shells using their blunt heads and elongated teeth.

This species forages actively for its prey. It may sometimes be seen crawling along the side of a house or rock wall at night in search of prey.


Temperament and Defense

This species does not bite if handled gently, though they may poop and/or musk. Other than camouflage, this species has little in the way of defense. They will sometimes flatten their body and even curl up their labial scales, presumably to look bigger and more fierce.


Conservation

This species has no special protections in the state. Because of its secretive nature and diet preference, it persists even near human habitations.


State Distribution and Abundance

This species occurs statewide and is abundant.

Gallery

Midland Brownsnake, Juvenile Midland Brownsnake, Juvenile Midland Brownsnake, Juvenile Midland Brownsnake, Juvenile Midland Brownsnake, Juvenile Midland Brownsnake, Juvenile Midland Brownsnake Midland Brownsnake Midland Brownsnake Midland Brownsnake Midland Brownsnake Midland Brownsnake Midland Brownsnake Midland Brownsnake Storeria dekayi (Brown Snake) Storeria dekayi wrightorum. Brown snake. Storeria dekayi wrightorum - Brown snake.  Wide shot. Storeria dekayi wrightorum head and neck. Storeria dekayi wrightorum head. Brown snake.  Closer. Brown snake. Brown snake.  In my hat. Brown snake. Midland Brownsnake Midland Brownsnake Midland Brownsnake Midland Brownsnake Midland Brownsnake Midland Brown Snake Midland Brown Snake Midland Brown Snake Midland Brown Snake Midland Brown Snake Midland Brown Snake Midland Brown Snake Midland Brown Snake Midland Brown Snake Midland Brown Snake © Rex  Lisman_070916_1635 Texas/Midland Brown Snake Texas/Midland Brown Snake Brown Snake Brown Snake Brown Snake Brown Snake Brown Snake Brown Snake Brown Snake Brown Snake Brown Snake Brown Snake Brown Snake Brown Snake Brown Snake Brown Snake Brown Snake Brown Snake Brown Snake Brown Snake Brown Snake Brown Snake Brown Snake Brown Snake

Contributors

  • kaptainkory May 06, 2006, at 04:27 PM (Original Contributor)

Bibliography

  • Behler, J. L., and F. W. King. 1979 (1987). The Audubon Society Field Guide to North American Reptiles and Amphibians. 3rd ed. Alfred A. Knopf, New York. 743 pp.
  • Conant, R., and J. T. Collins. 1998. A Field Guide to Reptiles and Amphibians of Eastern and Central North America. 3rd ed., Expanded. Houghton Mifflin Co., Boston. 616 pp.
  • Irwin, K. J. 2004. Arkansas Snake Guide. Arkansas Game and Fish Commission Pocket Guide. 50 pp.
  • Trauth, S. E., H. W. Robison, and M. V. Plummer. 2004. Amphibians and Reptiles of Arkansas. University of Arkansas Press, Fayetteville. 421 pp.

Discussion

  • As a kid, I observed a Brownsnake crawling along the edge of a rock wall at night. I followed it without disruption until it came to a rather large slug. It chewed on the slug--which was obviously too large!--for a minute or so, but it didn't seem to me like it was attempting to swallow it. Then it disengaged, but continued to "eat" the remaining slime. Although this evidence is completely anecdotal, I've always wondered about whether or not this snake intended to eat the slug or just get a "snack" of slime?

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Page last modified on January 21, 2012, at 09:00 PM