Colubridae (nonvenomous snakes) in the order Squamata (lizards and snakes)
The long, slender orange-striped ribbonsnake is a type of gartersnake. Two wide, black stripes border a yellow or orange stripe down its back. Below the black stripes is a narrow yellow stripe. Often there is a yellow or orange spot on the black head. The belly is greenish or cream-colored, and it is unmarked. As with other gartersnakes, this species will secrete a foul-smelling musk from glands at the base of the tail when first captured.
Length: 20 to 30 inches.
This slender snake is active from April through October. In mild temperatures, it is active during the day, but in hot weather it may become nocturnal. It is seldom far from water. It lives in wooded areas near swamps, marshes, sloughs, ponds, streams, and rivers, and is often seen along banks of these bodies of water. It is quick and agile and doesn't hesitate to enter water.
Ribbonsnakes eat small frogs, toads, salamanders, and sometimes minnows. Earthworms are also eaten.
Our subspecies of western ribbonsnake is the orange-striped ribbonsnake, named, naturally, for the attractive orange (or yellowish) stripes running down the length of its body.
Mating occurs during April and early May. The young are born from late June to September. A litter may contain 4-28 young, with an average of 12 or 13. At birth, the young are about 9 or 10 inches long.
Many snake species are burdened with unfair, undying myths that paint them to be much more dangerous and harmful than they are. But persecuting this attractive, harmless species is particularly unjust, for it results from ignorance and fear. Support nature education. Speak out on behalf of snakes.
As predators, ribbonsnakes and gartersnakes control populations of the animals they consume. As with many other predatory species, they can be preyed upon themselves by larger animals, including mammals and predatory birds. The defenseless young are especially vulnerable.
Missouri’s herptiles comprise 43 amphibians and 75 reptiles. Amphibians, including salamanders, toads, and frogs, are vertebrate animals that spend at least part of their life cycle in water. They usually have moist skin, lack scales or claws, and are ectothermal (cold-blooded), so they do not produce their own body heat the way birds and mammals do. Reptiles, including turtles, lizards, and snakes, are also vertebrates, and most are ectothermal, but unlike amphibians, reptiles have dry skin with scales, the ones with legs have claws, and they do not have to live part of their lives in water.