Eastern Ribbonsnake

eastern ribbonsnake

The Ribbonsnake (Thamnophis sauritus) has three yellow, length-wise stripes on a black background. A checkerboard pattern is rarely visible between the stripes. The head is dark reddish-brown over a white upper lip and there is a vertical white bar just in front of the eye. Also look for the mahogany stripe along the lower sides and edges of the belly.

The Ribbonsnake is more slender than the Gartersnake. About ¼ to ⅓ of its total length is the tail. They may reach 2 to 3 feet long (the longest documented in Vermont is 35 inches).


The Eastern Ribbonsnake may be found in pastures, open woods, and rocky areas. They are almost always near water, and they seem to prefer warm microclimates.


Mating typically occurs when snakes emerge from hibernation. Males seek out females and attempt to mate with them.

Mating takes place soon after these snakes have emerged from hibernation in the spring, they also sometimes mate in the fall. Live young are born in late summer, litter size ranges from 4 to 27 young, with 12 being average. Young snakes grow rapidly and often become mature before their second year, though some females don't breed until their third year.


Eastern ribbon snakes eat mainly frogs,salamanders, and their larvae. They will also eat small fish, but rarely eat earthworms. They capture prey by stalking or chasing them.


All sightings of the Eastern Ribbonsnake should be reported, as these are a species of greatest concern due to low population numbers. Report your sightings to the Vermont Herp Atlas.


The Eastern Ribbonsnake is rare in Vermont and is a species of special concern. It has been designated a Species of Greatest Conservation Need (high priority) in Vermont's Wildlife Action Plan.


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Vermont Department of Fish & Wildlife
Commissioner Louis Porter

1 National Life Drive
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Montpelier, VT 05620-3702

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The mission of the Vermont Fish & Wildlife Department is the conservation of all species of fish, wildlife, and plants and their habitats for the people of Vermont.