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Northern Red-Bellied Snake <image courtesy of Ohio Department of Natural Resources>

  • Adult body length: 8 - 10 inches, record 16 inches, except for the introduced Brahminy Blind Snake this is the smallest snake in Ohio.
  • Length at birth: 3 - 4 inches
  • Breeding period: spring or fall
  • Young per year: 1 - 21 young born June to September
  • Typical foods: insects, slugs, earthworms


The ground color of this small snake is gray-brown, gray or black with 3 light spots on the nape of the neck. Except in the very darkest specimens there are 4 stripes along the back, slightly darker than the ground color. Occasionally a person may see a specimen that is almost completely black. As its name declares, the Northern Red-Bellied Snake's belly is red or red-orange. This under-color is uniform and unmarked.

Overall Range
Nova Scotia south to central Florida, west to Saskatchewan and Texas.
Range in Ohio
Records in Ohio form a band from the Ohio River in south-central counties north through the central part of the state and northeastward to Lake Erie in the Northeast. There is an isolated population in the northwestern part of the state.
Northern Red-Bellied Snake Ohio Map

Local Habitat
Sphagnum bogs, wet meadows, or swamp forests, as well as dry, open wooded areas.


This smallest of Ohio's native snakes is secretive and not often seen by the casual observer. Individuals are known to hide under boards and stones, and inside rotten logs. In some local areas the Northern Red-Bellied Snake may be rather common, while in other areas that seem to have the proper habitat it may be totally lacking. Hawks and predatory mammals feed on this snake as they do on many other small snakes.


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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