Can you identify the snake in the attachment, please? I am concerned as we...

Asked October 30, 2019, 8:23 AM EDT

Can you identify the snake in the attachment, please? I am concerned as we found this in our flower bed in Lewis Center. I does not appear to be a garter snake to me... Thanks!

New York County New York

1 Response

Thank you for your question. The snake in your photograph is a brownsnake, scientific name (Storeria dekayi). There are five subspecies of this snake in the eastern part of the U.S. Based on your location, this is the northern brownsnake (Storeria dekayi dekayi). This subspecies is found from portions of Maine, west to portions of Ohio and south to portions of North Carolina. This is a non-venomous species.

Typical length for an adult is approximately 12 inches. Maximum length can reach approximately 18 inches.

Brownsnakes live under mulch, pine straw and leaf litter. They are primarily active at night, but can be found during the day. They feed primarily on earthworms and slugs, but will also eat snails (they pull them out of the shell first), insects, spiders and have been known to consume small salamanders.

These snakes are often encountered by gardeners who are replacing old mulch or pine straw in their garden beds or around ornamental shrubs.

The species name honors Dr. James E. Dekay, a noted physician and naturalist from New York. Many herpetologists and snake enthusiasts still refer to this species as Dekay's snake or Dekay's brownsnake. This name has caused confusion in the past, however, because people not familiar with the name thought people were saying "decayed snake".

Here's a link where you can find out more about the snake species found in New York:

https://www.esf.edu/pubprog/brochure/snakes/snakes.htm

If you're interested in reading more about snake species in your state, here is an excellent field guide that includes New York:

Gibbons, W. (2017). Snakes of the Eastern United States. Athens: The University of Georgia Press.

I hope this answers your question, and thank you for contacting Ask an Expert.

Jim