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.