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Kirtland's Snake <image courtesy Ohio Department of Natural Resources>

  • Adult body length: 14 - 18 inches, record 24½ inches.
  • Body length at birth: 5 - 6½ inches.
  • Breeding period: Early August to late September.
  • Young per year: 4 - 15 young born alive.
  • Typical foods: earthworms and slugs.
  • Named for Cleveland physician/naturalist Jared Potter Kirtland.


Kirtland's Snake is slender and has a brown or grayish ground color. Usually, there are two rows of alternating dark spots on either side of the side of the back, but these sometimes are difficult to see. The most distinctive part of this snake's appearance is its belly: red with a line of characteristic black spots running down each side.

Overall Range
Western Pennsylvania through central Illinois to extreme northeastern Missouri.

Range in Ohio
Throughout the glaciated western half of Ohio, most common in the areas of Lucas and Hamilton Counties.
Kirtland's Snake Ohio Map

Local Habitat
Wet meadows, vicinity of woodland ponds and open swamplands. Although a "water snake," Kirtland's Snake is rarely found swimming in open water. It is considered by specialists to be the least aquatic of water snakes.


A distinctive characteristic of this snake is the way in which it flattens its body when disturbed. It swims well but only rarely is found swimming. Kirtland's Snake typically is encountered under boards and flat rocks in wet meadows and other moist areas, a habit that relates well to its well-documented preference for eating earthworms and slugs.


ODNR, Division of Wildlife, "Species A-Z Guide"

University of Michigan Animal Diversity Web

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The Ohio Historical Society (OHS)
Date of last revision: 06/25/2003
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