Northern Ribbonsnake

Northern Ribbonsnake Photo Credit: Scott Gillingwater

Thamnophis sauritus


  • COSEWIC – Special concern.
  • COSSARO – Special concern.


  • Adult body length is 45 to 66 cm (18 to 31 in).
  • Background colour of black with 3 yellow or greenish-yellow stripes down its back and sides (like a Common Gartersnake).
  • Has a very long tail (approximately ΒΌ to 1/3 of the body length).
  • Chin is pale yellow or white and there is a small white half-moon shaped spot in front of the eye.
  • Scales are keeled. A keeled scale is one that has a raised ridge along the scale’s mid-line, giving the snake a rough or textured appearance.


  • Found along the edges of lakes, ponds and wetlands in areas with grasses, sedges and shrubs.

Northern Ribbonsnake’s distinctive white spot in front of eye. Photo Credit: Scott Gillingwater


  • Mostly amphibians like frogs, salamanders and tadpoles. May eat small fish, insects, and worms.


  • Emerge from hibernation site (e.g. crayfish burrow) in April.
  • May bask in low shrubs.
  • May move into upland meadows in late spring or summer following amphibious prey.


  • Mate in early spring and have been know to mate again in the fall.
  • Give live birth to an average of 13 young in late July or August.
  • Young will mature in their 2nd or 3rd year.
  • Usually live less than 10 years.


  • Loss of wetland habitat.

Conservation Actions: