Although I found a number of Western Ribbon Snakes in Union County, Illinois, it wasn’t until I visited neighboring Johnson County that I found my first Eastern Ribbon Snakes.
Ribbon snakes are semiaquatic and frequently found along the edges of lakes, bogs and marshes. A swampy area with railroad tracks running through it proved to be an ideal place for them.
The ribbon snake gets its name from its very thin body. At maturity, it’s usually between 2 to 3 feet in length. It is a slender, dark snake with a yellow stripe down the back and one on each side. Its tail often makes up about one third of its body length.
The Eastern Ribbon Snake is a member of the garter snake family. Not only do they look similar to garter snakes, they too are widely distributed throughout the United States.
This species is a good swimmer and can race quickly along solid ground. It also is a good climber and are often found in the small bushes along the water’s edge. This serpent is active and nervous and relies on being wary to escape predators. Their diet consists of frogs, salamanders, toads, small fish and leeches. Like garter snakes, Eastern Ribbon Snakes give birth to live offspring in late Summer.