Other snakes:

Western Hognose Snake

Smooth Green Snake

Plains Garter Snake

Red-sided Garter Snake

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Amphibians and Reptiles Front Page

Northern Red-bellied Snake

Northern Red-bellied Snake

What it looks like

Northern Red-bellied Snakes are very small snakes. A large female may be 40 cm long, but most are less than 30 cm. They may be brown or gray in colour with lighter or darker stripes. The belly is bright red.

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These snakes are about the same size as Smooth Green Snakes or young garter snakes, but no other Manitoba snake has a red belly.


Red-bellied Snakes are named for their bright red bellies. There are different kinds in North America. The kind in Manitoba is the most northerly one.

Scientific Name

The Northern Red-bellied Snake's scientific name is Storeria occipitomaculata occipitomaculata. Learn what that means on this page: Scientific Names.

Where it lives

This snake is found in eastern North America up to southern Canada. It lives across southern Manitoba in moist forests, grasslands and around wetlands.

Where Northern Red-bellied Snakes live in North America.


Red-bellied Snakes are active in the day time, though in the warmer parts of summer they will hunt in the morning or evening. They are usually found around moist habitats or wetlands. Winter is spent underground below the frost line in animal burrows, ant nests or around the base of buildings.

Redbelly Head
A close-up of a Northern Red-bellied Snake.

Food Web

Worms, slugs and insect larvae (grubs) are the main food of these snakes.

Northern Red-bellied Snakes may be eaten by birds, squirrels, and even large frogs or toads or other snakes.

Life Cycle

Mating occurs in spring but sometimes late into the summer, too. Northern Red-bellied Snakes give birth to live young from mid-August into September. There may be 10 to 20 young born at a time. The new-born snakes are only about 6 - 8 cm long. It takes a couple of years for them to reach adult size. They live for about 5 years.


In Manitoba Northern Red-bellied Snakes may be quite common at times, but they are so small and hard to find that not much is know about them.

Special Things

Northern Red-bellied Snakes are Manitoba's smallest kind of snake. Why they have such bright red bellies isn't known. Maybe the red colour startles predators?

How to Find Northern Red-bellied Snakes

As it is with most snakes they are easiest to find while they are basking along trails or roads. They tend to be most common around wetlands or moist grasslands. Look under logs, boards or debris for their hiding places.

Use by People

These snakes aren't used by people. Like the Smooth Green Snake, most Manitobans don't even know they exist! (You do now!)

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