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Northern Brown Snake <image courtesy of Ohio Historical Society>

  • Adult body length: 9 - 13 inches
  • Body length at birth: 2¾ - 5 inches
  • Breeding period: spring and fall; young born June to September
  • Young per year: 3 - 31
  • Typical foods: earthworms, slugs, snails

The color of this snake varies from yellowish-brown and reddish-brown to dark brown or gray. There is a weakly defined lighter stripe down the back with a row of dark spots on either side. The under surface is pale yellow, brownish, or pinkish with small black dots along the edges. The young are darker than the adults and the spotted pattern is almost invisible. Also, the young have a yellow collar across the back of the neck.
The closely related Midland Brown Snake is very similar in appearance, but it has dark lines crossing the back and connecting the dark spots on either side. Also, specialists find differences in the number of scales along the under surfaces of these two snakes.
In Ohio, the Northern Brown Snake interbreeds with the Midland Brown Snake producing an intergrade that often has the combined characteristics of both parents.

Overall Range
The Northern Brown Snake ranges from southern Quebec and New England southward to North Carolina, and westward to Ohio and eastern Kentucky. Its distribution overlaps that of the Midland Brown Snake along most of the joint length of their ranges.

Range in Ohio
This snake lives in most parts of Ohio except for the unglaciated hills of the southeastern part of the state. Sometimes, as in Ohio, this snake interbreeds with the closely related Midland Brown Snake where their ranges overlap.
Northern Brown Snake Ohio Map

Local Habitat
This snake lives in moist to wet areas in woodland, prairies, marshes, and in the margins of swamps, bogs and ponds. In areas of human habitation it sometimes occurs in vacant lots and gardens.

Large numbers of the Northern Brown Snake often hibernate together during the winter. During mild weather they are diurnal, while in warm weather they are nocturnal. These are secretive snakes that hide under flat rocks, logs and trash.


ODNR, Division of Wildlife, "Species A-Z Guide"

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© 2001 Ohio Public Library Information Network (OPLIN)
The Ohio Historical Society (OHS)
Date of last revision: 06/25/2003
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