Brown Snakes
Storeria dekayi

Family: Natricidae - Harmless Live-Bearing Snakes

Typical Adult Size: 9 to 13 inches

Reproduction: live bearing

Eye Pupil: round

Dorsal Scales: keeled

Anal Scale: divided

SC Range Map

Additional Images

Brown Snakes are small brown or gray snakes often found around yards and vacant lots. Average adult size is in the range of 9 to 13 inches. They eat slugs, earthworms, and soft-bodied insects. They are live bearing (that is, the female retains the eggs within her body until time to hatch.)

These snakes were formerly called "DeKay's Snakes." There are two subspecies found is South Carolina: Northern (Storeria d. dekayi) and Midland (Storeria d. wrightorum)

These snakes have two parallel rows of dark spots down their backs. In the Northern Brown Snake a few of the spots may be joined with their corresponding spots by dark lines across the middle back. In the Midland Brown Snake many more spots are joined by dark lines. A midland specimen found in McCormick County (1999) demonstrates a very colorful and striking pattern.

These snakes seem to have been much more numerous in the 1950's and 60's than they are today. This is not to say that they are now still common today. I receive many emails from persons requesting a snake identification that turns out to be a Brown Snake. In my pre-teenage years, I could easily find a specimen or two most any summer day by turning over a few boards on most any vacant lot. I had a friend who thoroughly searched his backyard one day and found 20 or 30 of these snakes. Granted, he had recently moved to a rental property with a lot of trash in the yard, but even so this was a phenomenal number to find. Others have also noted this apparent decline in populations and have suggested that use of pesticides may be the cause.

These snakes are generally inoffensive, although they may excrete on their captors. They are fairly easy to keep in captivity since their food is readily available.

Additional Images:

Northern Brown Snake, Storeria d. dekayi
apparent Northern adult approx. 12 inches
Midland Brown Snake, Storeria d. wrightorum
apparent Midland adult approx. 12 inches
apparent Midland adult approx. 12 inches
Northern/Midland Intergrade Brown Snake,
Storeria d. dekayi x wrightorum
adult, intergrade Northern/Midland
adult, intergrade Northern/Midland
adult, belly - plain, few spots, approx. 10 inches
adult, belly - linear shading, numerous spots, approx. 13 inches
juvenile, approx. 6 inches
newborn, approx. 3.3 inches
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July 07, 2009
Contact: South Carolina Reptiles and Amphibians