The red-bellied snake or redbelly snake (Storeria occipitomaculata) is a non-venomous snake endemic to North America belonging to the Colubridae family. Its range extends from southern Canada (Saskatchewan, Nova Scotia) extending into the eastern regions of the United States as far south as central Florida and west to southeastern Texas and the Gulf Coast.
Other US states where these snakes are available contain Maine, Minnesota, Oklahoma, Kansas and North Dakota. Among its 3 subspecies would be the inhabitants found at the Black Hills mountain range region in Wyoming and South Dakota.
These snakes are also known other common names such as the red-bellied snake, red-bellied ground snake, spot-necked snake, worm snake, ground snake, yellowish snake, brown snake, and little brown snake, red-billed brown snake, red-bellied garter snake or fire snake.
They are sometimes located in various habitats with abundant soil cover such as mountainous or hilly woodlands or forests, upland meadows and valleys, marshes, prairies, pastures, wetlands, along with swamp or bog edges.
Generally found in the moistest areas of their habitat they can also inhabit dryer areas such as rocky hills anywhere from sea level up to 5600 ft (1,700 m) high.
The redbelly snake is extremely secretive generally taking shelter under stones, leaf litter, logs, bark, ant mounds but additionally in trash piles, abandoned homes, building foundations or coverboards and occasionally seen on streets in the open.
Usually found hiding together or close other red-bellied snakes but also along with other snake species like the pig snake (genus Carphophis), rough earth snake (Virginia striatula) or even the brown snake (Storeria dekayi).
What does a baby red belly black snake look like?
The red-bellied snake for a length ranging from 8 or 7 up to 16 inches, while females are far longer than males have a slightly longer tail. Their dorsal colour varies from brown gray, olive-brown, chestnut-brown, tan-brown, red-brown or perhaps black.
The rear coloration has distinct shades which make a striped layout, occasionally only a wide light stripe is visible while on some people 4 narrower darker stripes may be seen across the length of the trunk.
Their name comes out of their different and unmarked bright reddish underside, but sometimes some specimens could get an orange, yellow, pink, pink, red or on rare occasions a black or greenish belly.
At the surface of the mind is generally darker than the rest of the human body, being black in many specimens. The throat and chin areas are usually white. Their neck spots fuse to form a marking.
Juveniles have an identical appearance to mature snakes but are normally darker with a less vibrant underside coloration. This species has keeled scales, but lacks any loreal scales those located between the uterus and the eyes.
Red-bellied snakes become prey for a variety of other wild species like ground squirrels, raccoons, shrews, hawks, largemouth bass but are killed by domestic hens, cats, dogs, and puppies.
They’re also preyed upon by other bigger snake species like the dark racers, milk lions or king snakes. Approximately 4 to 5 decades they live.
In winter red-bellied snakes embark at a mass migration to come across good hibernation sites such as abandoned burrows or anthills. They float together in classes and even with other snake species that is little.
These snakes are usually active during the daytime in spring and autumn in the throughout hot the summer months that the redbelly snake become more nocturnal.
Their defensive behaviors when startled or feeling threatened include a peculiar lip-curling exposing their dark mouth, stripping their entire body or releasing a musky secretion from their cloaca. They bite but occasionally they feign death like snakes like the eastern hognose that is congeneric.
What does a red belly snake eat?
The red-bellied snake diet is composed mainly of slugs however they also feed on snails, beetle larvae, earthworms, other insects, and occasionally even smaller frogs or tiny salamanders.
The species contains some special adaptations to its teeth and jaws, which enables them to eliminate snails from their shell rather easily. Often located in gardens they are rather useful in controlling plant destroying animals’ numbers.
The breeding season occurs in the spring just after hibernation or the autumn along with females giving birth to live young, unlike most snakes that lay eggs. Females can save the man sperm for several months delaying fertilization over the winter before the spring arrives.
They give birth in the summer form July or August to early September. The litter size varies but typically ranges between 4 and 9 younglings, but can be as high as 23 snakes.
When born the babies are coated by a fairly thin membrane which they break very quickly. Juveniles are coated in a black colour with 3 cream and therefore so are between 7 and 11 cm long. The species reaches sexual maturity at 3 decades of age.
Red-bellied snakes have been classified as a Least Concern species in the IUCN Red List, because of their broad distribution with different subpopulations, and their presumed large and stable population figures.
The species also occurs in several protected areas with no major threats proven to influence them substantially. The snake is also somewhat conducive to habitat modifications that are small.
The species-specific name occipitomaculata meaning spotted back of the mind, describes the 3 feature yellow or white spots usually within their neck. The genus name Storeria was awarded in honour of this 18th-century zoologist in New England, David H. Storer.
There are 3 subspecies currently recognized as being legitimate by scientists. The subspecies are named after the areas they inhabit.
Northern redbelly snake (Storeria occipitomaculata occipitomaculata – Storer, 1839) – This subspecies has the broadest range extending from southern Canada southward into the east regions of the United States as far south as scenic Texas and the Gulf Coast.
Florida redbelly snake (Storeria occipitomaculata obscura – Trapido, 1944) – because their name suggests this subspecies is among the several snakes found in Florida, it is found in central and northern Florida but is absent in southern regions of peninsular Florida. In this subspecies their neck stains that are feature fuse forming a crate.
Black Hills redbelly snake (Storeria occipitomaculata pahasapae – H.M. Smith, 1963) – This subspecies is made up of an isolated population located at the Black Hills in western South Dakota and extending into Wyoming.
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