A Student Snake Expert on Connecticut's Native Snakes

The third in a four-part series on the native snakes of Connecticut.

A Student Snake Expert on Connecticut's Native Snakes
The smooth green snake swallows prey whole without the use of venom. Image via iNaturalist.

By Nathaniel Oulton

Nathaniel is an experienced snake breeder who has been keeping snakes for seven years and breeding snakes in captivity for two years.

Connecticut isn't known for its exciting wildlife. That all changes when in comes to snakes. In this third installment of a four-part series, a look at three of Connecticut's fascinating native snakes.

The Northern Ringneck Snake

Diadophis punctatus edwardsii

A ringneck snakes moves across the ground.
The northern redbelly snake has a maximum length of one foot. Image by Nathaniel Oulton.

The northern ringneck snake is another very small species of snake, only measuring in between 10–15 inches. Multiple female ringnecks will lay eggs in the same spot, creating large egg groups. The average female lays 5–10 eggs in a moist place (such as a rotting log), so up to 50 eggs from several different mothers can be found in single location. The adults will eat insects, salamanders, earthworms, slugs, and small frogs.

The Northern Redbelly Snake

Storeria occipitomaculata

A black snake with a red belly lies coiled on the ground.
The northern redbelly has a maximum length of one foot. Image via iNaturalist.

The northern redbelly snake is a very small species of snake, with a maximum length of around one foot. The redbelly’s scientific name, Storeria occipitomaculata, is derived from the name of zoologist David Humphreys Storer and the Latin words occiput (meaning ‘back part of the head’) and macula (meaning spot or mark.) These snakes are found in woodlands and their diet often consists of insects, slugs, earthworms, and beetle larvae.

The Smooth Green Snake

Opheodrys vernalis

A smooth green snake coiled around a tree lunges out towards the viewer.
Smooth green snakes strike and swallow prey without venom. Image via iNaturalist.

The smooth green snake is another small and slender snake reaching a maximum length of two feet. These snakes are highly arboreal, which means that they spend most of their time up in the trees and very little time on the ground. The smooth green snake’s diet consists of caterpillars, harvestmen, moths, ants, snails, spiders, and slugs. Unlike many other snakes, the smooth green snake doesn’t use venom or constriction to kill its prey. It simply strikes and swallows the prey. Living in the trees makes prey accessible, but also leaves it vulnerable to predators such as large birds, bears, foxes, raccoons, and even common house cats.

Check back in the December edition for part four of this four-part series on Connecticut's native snakes.