Eastern Ribbonsnake Thamnophis sauritus

Subadult from Jasper County
Adult from LaGrange County

Identification: This slender snake is aptly named for its elongate form and elegant stripes. They are brown to black in color with a bright yellow dorsal stripe and lighter-colored lateral stripes. Though not a robust snake, ribbonsnakes can grow to over three feet (1 m) in length and have a long tail (over 25% of their body length).

Similar Species: Most other striped snakes in Indiana (eastern gartersnakes, plains gartersnakes, and Butler's gartersnake) are more robust with much shorter tails. The western ribbonsnake is very similar but has a brighter orange-red stripe and favors sandier environs. Western ribbonsnakes also have a bold white spot on top of their head (parietal spot) that is either absent or faint in this species.

Distribution: Eastern ribbonsnakes have an irregular distribution in Indiana that reflects portions of the state with historically abundant wetlands. They are absent from much of eastern Indiana and the unglaciated south-central hills. This amphibian-specialist is strongly tied to aquatic habitats and is rarely found far from wetlands.

Lowland Stream in Dubois County
Marshland in Jackson County

Distribution Map
Distribution map of Eastern Ribbonsnake (Thamnophis sauritus)
Photographs