- Adult body length is 45 to 66 cm (18 to 31 in).
- Background colour of black with 3 yellow or greenish-yellow stripes down its back and sides (like a common gartersnake).
- Has a very long tail (approximately ¼ to 1/3 of the body length).
- Chin is pale yellow or white and there is a small white half-moon shaped spot in front of the eye.
- Scales are keeled. A keeled scale is one that has a raised ridge along the scale’s mid-line, giving the snake a rough or textured appearance.
- Mostly amphibians like frogs, salamanders and tadpoles. May eat small fish, insects, and worms.
Habits and Reproduction
- Emerge from hibernation site (e.g. crayfish burrow) in April.
- May bask in low shrubs.
- May move into upland meadows in late spring or summer following amphibious prey.
- Mate in early spring and have been know to mate again in the fall.
- Give live birth to an average of 13 young in late July or August.
- Young will mature in their 2nd or 3rd year.
- Usually live less than 10 years.
- Found along the edges of lakes, ponds and wetlands in areas with grasses, sedges and shrubs.
- Loss of wetland habitat.