What they look like

Eastern ribbonsnakes are slender semi-aquatic snakes with three bright yellow parallel stripes on a dark body. The side stripes occur on the 3rd and 4th scale rows and there is a caramel colored line below the stripes. They have a  small slender head and vertical white line in front of the eye. Ribbonsnakes reach a maximum of 70 cm in length, but most are considerably smaller.

Like all snakes in Nova Scotia, ribbonsnakes are harmless and will not bother you if you don't bother them. Even when handled, ribbonsnakes rarely try to bite. Their teeth are small and not fanged, and on the rare occasions that they do try to bite, most are too small to break the skin and actually feel like Velcro.

Eastern ribbonsnakes and Common garter snakes look somewhat similar. Here is how you can tell them apart.


Snakes of Nova Scotia

There are 5 species of snakes in Nova Scotia. In addition to the ribbonsnake (Thamnophis sauritus) and the garter snake (Thamnophis sirtalis) mentioned above, there is the Smooth green snake (Liochlorophis vernalis - genus used to be Opheodrys), the red-bellied snake (Storeria occipitomaculata), and the ringneck snake (Diadophis punctatus). All snakes in Nova Scotia are small and harmless. 

For more information on Nova Scotia's snake, visit The Nova Scotia Museum of Natural History's website.

           Smooth green snake                     Red-bellied snake                     Ringneck snake