Michigan State University masthead

Northern Ribbon Snake

Northern Ribbon Snake
Thamnophis sauritus septentrionalis

Image of northern ribbon snakeDescription

A very slender black or brown snake with three bright yellow or white stripes down the back. The head is black, though the scales above and below the mouth are white. The belly is white or light yellow.

Adult Length:

18 to 38 inches.

Habitat and Habits

Eastern Ribbon Snakes inhabit marshes and damp meadows, and the edges of lakes, ponds, and streams. They are very alert and active, and swim well (but rarely dive). Their diet includes frogs, tadpoles, salamanders, and small fish.


From 3 to 26 young are born alive in late summer. They are 7 to 9 inches long and colored like the adults.

Range and Status

Ribbon Snakes occur throughout the Lower Peninsula.


James Harding
MSU Museum
Michigan State University
East Lansing, MI 48824
(517) 353-7978