This is the third in a series on snakes that’s being written for you by The Houston Zoo’s Herpetology Department Supervisor, Judith Bryja. Our Herp Department knows their stuff, and since we get so much interest in snakes, Judith is writing this informative blog series each week just for you! If you’d like to read the series from the beginning, click here.
Let’s talk about Dekay’s snakes (Storeria dekayi). Also known as brown snakes, there are many subspecies of this diminutive snake; we have two of them in Texas. Adult size is only 9-13 inches. Most are some shade of brown or grey with a wide stripe down the back and small spots on either side of the stripe. The belly is whitish or yellowish.
They live in a variety of habitats including pine forest, grasslands, and brackish and freshwater marshes. They prefer wet shaded places that have ground cover and surface leaf litter; this provides shelter and their main prey animals. Their diet is mostly earthworms and slugs but they will also eat other invertebrates and small fish and frogs. About 12 babies are born in late summer. They are 3-4 inches long at birth. When bothered, this inoffensive little snake will usually lay quite still. If further disturbed, they will try to get away, and if that doesn’t work, they may flatten the body revealing rows of dark and light scales. This sudden change in appearance can confuse a predator. Rarely do they ever try to bite (not that it would do much if they did!).
Written by Judith Bryja
Photos by Charlie Mann
Come back next week for another installment in this Snake Series!