Eastern Ribbonsnake

Scientific name: Thamnophis sauritus
Mi’kmaq name:


The Eastern Ribbonsnake is a long, slender, semi-aquatic snake (up to 70 cm). It is jet-black with three yellow stripes running from head to tail along its back and sides; it has a caramel brown shade on the lower sides, and a white tear-drop scale in front of each eye. It is a harmless snake, and it is not poisonous.


Found in freshwater wetlands, such as stillwater streams, marshes, swamps, bogs, lakeshores and coves. They are rarely found more than 30 metres from the water’s edge, and are typically seen in areas with aquatic vegetation, shallow pools, and amphibians.

Eastern Ribbonsnakes are typically observed around wetlands in spring, and along tracks and roadsides near water in summer. The are also seen swimming along water’s edge or curled up under cover.

Interesting Points

  • Females are ovoviviparous (they give birth to live young) and are typically bigger than males.
  • The Nova Scotia population is a subspecies of the Eastern Ribbonsnake, and is known as the Northern Ribbonsnake.
  • Individuals eat mostly small fish and amphibians.


  • People often harm or kill snakes intentionally.
  • Vehicles run over snakes on roads, tracks, and trails.
  • Shoreline development destroys their habitat.
  • Our lack of knowledge limits our ability to help them.

Courtesy of Species at Risk in Nova Scotia: Identification & Information Guide
Website: www.speciesatrisk.ca


If you would like to provide additional information on this species, please email Justine Maloney at justinemaloney@mikmaqrights.com or fill out our feedback form by clicking here.