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Eastern Ribbonsnake

Thamnophis sauritus

COSEWIC Status: Special Concern

COSSARO Status: Special Concern

Credit: Scott Gillingwater


  • 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 ¼ 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.


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

Habits and Reproduction

  • 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.


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


  • Loss of wetland habitat.

Conservation Actions

Range Map

Photo Gallery

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

For more information about the Eastern Ribbonsnake in the Georgian Bay area, contact:

Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry
SAR Biologist
7 Bay Street
Parry Sound, Ontario
P2A 1S4
Phone: 705-746-4201

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