The Eastern Ribbon Snake’s preferred habitat is wetlands. They are quite often found along streams and ponds. Frogs and other amphibians are their primary sources of food. The Ribbon snake is an adept swimmer and will pursue it’s prey which it eats live. The Ribbon snake rarely bites humans and will attempt to escape any encounter.
The range of the Eastern Ribbon Snake is from Florida to Maine (and into Canada) along the Atlantic Ocean and as far West as Indiana and Louisiana.
Between April and May they emerge from hibernation and mate. The females carry the 5-70 offspring until July-August when they give live birth. Adults usually grow up to 36 inches.
If conditions become too dry, the Ribbon snake will lay dormant.
In cold weather, they hibernate underground (usually in another animal’s burrow, rocks or other natural formations.) In the past, hibernation would begin in the fall. Temperatures must consistently remain above freezing with plenty of moisture for the Ribbon snake to hunt. Usually by October they migrate to their hibernaculums. However, on November 24, 2004, a Eastern Ribbon Snake was found active in Ohio at an approximate latitude of 40 degrees North. Typically, there would be a frost line that the snake would be under at this time of year.
Ten of the hottest years on record have occurred in the last fifteen years of the last century. In response, we see changed behavior of animals, birds, fish and reptiles, such as earlier migration patterns in spring and delayed onset of hibernation in winter. We expect to see more anomalous events such as this little snake active in late fall as the world warms.
P. S. On Nov 30th, this snake was spotted again, in the same location. Priscilla, the white fluffy cat who rules the yard with paws of iron, was playing with it. A sortie was mounted, and while one operative distracted Priscilla with catnip, another operative outflanked Priscilla, picked up the snake, and tossed it up the bank coming down to the driveway. Priscilla was not easily dissuaded however, and blocking maneuvers were necessary to cover the snake’s retreat. The engagement ended with Priscilla ostensibly giving up the field and flouncing haughtily off toward the compost heap. A watch was posted, and while Priscilla was later observed investigating the bank, it is felt that the snake did survive, to bask another day.