Dekay’s Brownsnake

Scientific Name: Storeria dekayi
Size: 9-13 inches (23-33 cm) in length
Status: Abundant
PAHERP Resource: The Dekay’s Brown Snake

Dense forest to open grasslands, dry hillsides to marsh borders of ponds and lakes, abandoned human habitats, vacant lots, and other variable habitats. May be found under rocks, logs, boards, or other debris.

A small gray or brownish snake with two parallel rows of small dots bordering and indistinct wide, light dorsal stripe. Belly is pale yellowish brown or pinkish and bordered by black dots on the edges. Scales keeled and anal plate divided. Found in moist woodlands under cover but most often observed in vacant urban lots that are strewn with debris. Feeds on earthworms, slugs and snails.

Adult Coloration:
  • The dorsal background color varies from light grey, greyish brown, to dark brown with an occasional reddish tint.
  • The dorsal has a light medial stripe bordered by a row of dark brown to black dots on each side.
  • The ventral is cream, grey, yellowish brown, to pink.
  • The ventral may have 1 or 2 longitudinal rows of small spots on each side.
  • The skin between the body scales is black and gives the appearance of molting or rows of dots.
  • The head is molted with small black spots.
  • There are two dark marks under the eyes that resemble an inverted ”V” and a vertical dark temporal stripe or blotches on the supralabials.
  • The nape has a black semi-ring on the side sometimes extending onto the ventral.
Adult Characteristics:
  • Small, moderately stout species.
  • Dorsal scales are keeled.
Juvenile Characteristics:
  • Uniformed dark brown to black.
  • A narrow cream to yellow collar on the neck.
Scale Count:
  • 17 scale rows at midbody
  • 112-148 ventral scales
  • 36-73 subcaudals scales | 2 rows of subcaudals
  • Anal plate is divided
  • 2 nasal scales
  • 0 loreal scales
  • 1 preocular scale
  • 2 postoculars scales
  • 1 + 2 temporal scales
  • 7 supralabials
  • 7 infralabials

May be Confused With:
  • Hulse, C. and McCoy C. J. and Ellen Censky ,1998. Amphibians and Reptiles of Pennsylvania and the Northeast. 327-332pp.
  • Ernst, Carl H. and Ernst, Evelyn M. ,2003. Snakes of the United States and Canada. 320-324pp.
  • Kyle Loucks
  • Rex Everett
  • Scott Moser
  • Billy Brown
  • Rex Everett
  • Wayne Fidler
  • Don Becker(
  • Stephen Staedtler

Heads up!

Please contribute your observation of this and other herps to the Pennsylvania Amphibian and Reptile Survey. Your help is needed.

Submit Your Finding