DeKay’s Brownsnake

Storeria dekayi

IdentificationPhoto by Kiley Briggs.

DeKay’s Brownsnakes are always brown or grayish-brown. They have a wide light brown stripe down the center of the back. On each side of the stripe, there are black spots that are sometimes in the form of a checkerboard pattern. Their underside is white or tan. They have a black spot on the top of the head, black sideburns, a black spot under the eye,  and black parentheses on each side of the neck. They are usually about 1 foot long (the longest documented in Vermont is 17 inches) with keeled scales. When very small, they have a white ring around their neck that extends forward and under the eyes.  Even when very young, they have the same pattern of black spots on the head and neck.

Get more detailed identification and life history information by downloading the chart here.

You can learn more about this species and see some video footage by checking out this clip from our Rattlers, Peepers & Snappers DVD.


[ click image to zoom | download printable PDF ]

DeKay’s Brownsnakes can be found in overgrown wet meadows and rocky woods at low elevations. It is most often seen in the Lake Champlain Basin.


This species has a state natural heritage rank of S4 (relatively common). DeKay’s Brownsnake has been designated a Species of Greatest Conservation Need (medium priority) in Vermont’s Wildlife Action Plan. Please report sightings of this species in Vermont if you have not reported them within the last five years from a given location. Any natural history observations (feeding, migrations, road crossing areas, early or late season appearance, abnormalities, etc.) are appreciated. Photographs are always helpful, particularly if your report is the first report of this species from a town.

Additional Photos

Photo by Toby Alexander.  Photo by Ben Bond.   Photo by VT Herp Atlas  Photo by VT Herp Atlas.   Photo by Raymond Barnes.  Photo by Kiley Briggs.

More Info

Species summary written by Ariel K. McK. Burgess.