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A Hillbilly Guide to Snakes: The North American Brown Snake

Updated on July 26, 2012
A North American Brown Snake,  Photo by Benny Mazur from Toledo, OH, This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license.
A North American Brown Snake, Photo by Benny Mazur from Toledo, OH, This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license.

Storeria Dekayi... The Brown Snake


Not to be confused with the well known venomous brown snake of Australia, the brown snakes in North America are an unrelated small nonvenomous snake. The brown snake isn't one of the more popular snakes in North America despite having a large span of territory.

Eastern Brown Snake, Photo by Westportchickenboy, This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license.
Eastern Brown Snake, Photo by Westportchickenboy, This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license.

Appearance


As I'm sure you've figured out on your own. The brown snakes are generally brown. They actually fall under the scientific name of storeria, of which there are four separate subspecies. Three of the subspecies are called brown snakes while one is called the red-bellied snake. The red-bellied snake is also brown, but has a red belly. Because the brown snakes territory is so vast and there are subspecies with their own subspecies, they actually come in a variety of shades of brown. Many have a black or grayish line running down their back with brown spots on their sides. Their bellies are typically yellow or brown.


As I mentioned these aren't particularly big snakes and it is uncommon to see them over 13 inches long. The record is just a little bit over 19 inches.

Habitat


These snakes range from Canada all the way down to Central America. In the United States they mostly roam from the middle country all the way east.

They habitat woodlands or any place that provides good hiding. Because they are a small snake they like to hide in small places... piles of leaves, firewood, gardens, etc..

Eastern Brown Snake, Photo by LA Dawson, This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.5 Generic license.
Eastern Brown Snake, Photo by LA Dawson, This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.5 Generic license.

Food


Because of their limiting size brown snakes most typically eat insects, small amphibians, small rodents, slugs, and even earthworms.

Interactions with humans

Wild brown snakes are known to be docile, attempting to flatten themselves and release a smelly musk to avoid predators. I imagine it's because they are such a small snake, but they are not known for being aggressive or trying to bite. They are not commonly kept as pets and don't have a super long life span when kept in captivity.

North American Brown Snake eating, Photo by Brandon Dempster, This work is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 License.
North American Brown Snake eating, Photo by Brandon Dempster, This work is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 License.

Interactions with humans


Wild brown snakes are known to be docile, attempting to flatten themselves and release a smelly musk to avoid predators. I imagine it's because they are such a small snake, but they are not known for being aggressive or trying to bite. They are not commonly kept as pets and don't have a super long life span when kept in captivity.

North American Brown Snake,  Photo by Brandon Dempster, This work is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 License.
North American Brown Snake, Photo by Brandon Dempster, This work is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 License.

Comments

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    • profile image

      Lisa 

      5 weeks ago

      I have one of these little guys in my pool living on the Lily pad I have for little animals(frogs, rabbits etc) that fall into the pool and can’t get out without the lily pad. Should I move this little guy or are they good living in the water? I usually took these out but know they eat the little bugs that are in the pool so I don’t mind it being there. It’s getting colder here in TX so don’t want it to die from cold and water.

    • profile image

      Ms. D 

      3 years ago

      I keep finding these guys in my pool. We have plenty of salamanders and lizards around so I imagine they are after those guys. I found another panicked one today trying to get out the pool, swimming with a cricket hitch-hiking on his little back. I have been trying to identify these fellows and I am now glad I can, because, I'm not going to lie, I killed the first one I found even though I knew it wasnt poisonous because of the round pupils. I live in South Louisiana and the baby snakes are EVERYWHERE right now.

    • profile image

      Rsmith 

      5 years ago

      My boss and I caught one today in our fiber optic ground box.. I never seen one before.. Smelly but cool lil guy

    • Phillbert profile imageAUTHOR

      Phillip Drayer Duncan 

      6 years ago from The Ozarks

      Thanks for sharing your story Kelsey! I'm glad my article could help you identify him!

    • profile image

      Kelsey 

      6 years ago

      I found 1 of these little guys in the manure pile up at my horse barn. We usually find garden snakes so I knew right away it wasn't 1 of those. I put him in the little container I had brought with me to put worms in for fishing and went home right away to figure out what this little cutie was :P glad to know he's usually friendly :D now I'm tempted to hold this snake!!

    • Phillbert profile imageAUTHOR

      Phillip Drayer Duncan 

      6 years ago from The Ozarks

      Well I'm glad you enjoyed it nmdonders! Thanks for the comment and thanks for reading!

    • Phillbert profile imageAUTHOR

      Phillip Drayer Duncan 

      6 years ago from The Ozarks

      Hahaha Georgie! Good story! Thanks for sharing!

    • nmdonders profile image

      Nira Perkins 

      6 years ago

      I'm not really sure why I decided to look at this and scroll through all the pictures haha. Snakes scare me. I love your information, it's very detailed. Great work!

    • Georgie Lowery profile image

      GH Price 

      6 years ago from North Florida

      I came across one of these in the woods here in Western NY when I hiked up the mountain behind our house. I wasn't sure what he was until I got back home and we investigated. He opened up his mouth and hissed at me and I said "seeyalaterbye." I think he was mad because I turned over the log he was sleeping under.

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