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This site was created by students in the herpetology class at Towson University. Site last updated: 05/21/07.
Acknowledgements: Herb Harris - Range Maps; Mark Tegges - Photography; Dan Lapascha & Gigi Forester - TU Herpetology Logo
This fairly small (9 to 20 inches in length) snake has keeled scales, large eyes, and a relatively thick body. Coloration usually ranges from gray to brown, and a mid-dorsal light line that runs the length of the body is bordered by dark spots. There is a dark vertical streak on each side of the head. The venter is a pink-creamish color. DeKay’s snake has a divided anal plate and 17 mid-body scale rows. There are no distinguishing characteristics between males and females, but juveniles have a light colored ring around the neck.
While abundant, this snake is rarely encountered. They can be found in a wide range of habitats but are largely underground dwellers. Loose stones, large boulders, and logs provide adequate hiding places in old fields, vacant parking lots, marshes, and forests. They eat earthworms, slugs, and snails.
Mating occurs after the snakes emerge from hibernation in spring, and females give birth to 5 to 27 live young in July or August. After birth, no parental care is provided. Offspring reach sexual maturity by the end of their second summer.
Distribution in Maryland
Range map adapted from Harris, 1975.