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Ribbon Snake (Thamnophis sauritus)

Ribbon snake


NH Conservation Status: NH Wildlife Action Plan Species in Greatest Need of Conservation


State Rank Status: Vulnerable


Distribution: Throughout NH except far north.


Description: A very slender snake measuring 16-35 inches. Has 3 yellow or greenish stripes running down the surface on scale rows 3 and 4. The tail (starting at the cloaca and ending at the tip) is long and thin and measures 1/3 the length of the body


Commonly Confused Species: Common garter snakes do not have the long tail and has lateral stripes on scale rows 2 and 3.


Habitat: Found in and near aquatic habitats such as ponds, swamps, bogs, and stream edges. May be found in wet woodlands but seldom stray far from water. Uses brushy areas on the edges of water for concealment.


Life History: Ribbon snakes generally give live birth to 10-12 young from July to September. Hibernates underground on higher ground.


Conservation Threats: Loss and degradation of wetland habitats; anything that results in reduced amphibian populations.



Ribbon snake

Ribbon snake. Notice the mahogany color below the lateral stripe and the creamy lower jaw area. Photo by Mike Marchand.

Ribbon snake

Ribbon snakes are long slender snakes with yellow stripes. Photo by Mike Marchand.


Ribbon snake

Ribbon snakes have very long tails compared to other snakes. The tail technically only includes the area from the cloaca to the tip. The tail of the garter snake would be much shorter. Photo by Mike Marchand.

Ribbon snake

Do you see the ribbon snake in the grass? This one is feeding on a young pickerel frog. Photo by Mike Marchand.


Garter snake
Garter snakes (above) look very similar to ribbon snakes and are much more common. Notice that the lower jaw of a garter snake is yellow (not creamy white) and the sides of the snake are yellow (not mahogany). Photo by Mike Marchand.

Ribbon and Garter snake
Ribbon snake (left) and garter snake (right) observed at the same location in Weare, NH.

Photo by Mike Marchand.

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