Marsh Brown Snake

NON-VENOMOUS

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Scientific name: Storeria dekayi limnetes (ANDERSON 1961)
* Currently accepted name

Synonym:
* scientific names used through time

  • Tropidonotus dekayi – HOLBROOK 1842
  • Tropidonatus [sic] dekayi – HALLOWELL 1847
  • Storeria dekayi – BAIRD & GIRARD 1853
  • Ischnognathus dekayi – DUMÉRIL, BIBRON & DUMÉRIL 1854
  • Storeria tropica – COPE 1885
  • Storeria dekayi wrightorum – CONANT 1958
  • Storeria dekayi limnetes – ANDERSON 1961

Description: Average adult size is 9-13 inches (22.8-33 cm), record is 16 inches (40.8 cm). Adults are small, thin, and may be brownish or grayish, with a light mid-dorsal stripe and fleckings on the sides. There is a row of black spots along both sides of the mid-dorsal stripe. There is a horizontal dark line behind the eye, and a light band across the back of head. There are no dark markings on the labial scales. The belly is tannish to pinkish, with black dots along the edges. The scales are keeled and there are 15-17 dorsal scale rows at midbody. The pupil is round. Juveniles are dark brownish with a light band across the back of head.

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A. Top of the head
B. Underside of the head (chin and throat)
C. Front (face view) of the head
D. Side of the head
E. Keeled scales
F. Elongated scales below the tail (subcaudal scales) are typically divided

Range: In Florida, the Marsh Brown Snake occurs in the extreme western panhandle. Outside of Florida, it is found from southern Alabama to southern Texas.

Habitat: Uncommon, but found near prairies, marshes, and estuaries.

Comments: HARMLESS (Non-Venomous). The Marsh Brown Snake is active during the day, but may be seen at night during warm weather. It is a terrestrial burrower, occasionally found under driftwood along the Gulf coast. It feeds on slugs, snails, and earthworms, but occasionaly eats small fishes, frogs, and salamanders. It is live-bearing. Breeding occurs in early spring-summer, with 3-18 young born from August-September.

Comparison with other species: The Midland Brown Snake (Storeria dekayi wrightorum) may have the black spots along the mid-dorsal stripe connected across the back, and dark markings on the scales of the upper lip. The Redbelly Snake (Storeria occipitomaculata) has a light spot under the eye, a light band across the back of neck (not head), and sometimes a red belly. The Ringneck Snake (Diadophis punctatus) is solid grayish-black, with a complete neck ring and black spotted yellowish-orange belly.