Bluestripe Ribbon Snake


Thamnophis sauritus nitae

Scientific name: Thamnophis sauritus nitae (ROSSMAN 1963)
* Currently accepted name

* scientific names used through time

  • Coluber saurita – LINNAEUS 1766
  • Natrix saurita – MERREM 1820
  • Tropidonotus saurita – BOIE 1827
  • Leptophis sauritus – HOLBROOK 1842
  • Thamnophis saurita – FITZINGER 1843
  • Eutainia saurita – BAIRD & GIRARD 1853
  • Eutaenia saurita – KENNICOTT 1859
  • Prymnomoidon chalceus – COPE 1860
  • Thamnophis sauritus – STONE 1906
  • Thamnophis sirtalis – KLAUBER 1948
  • Thamnophis sauritus sackeni – CONANT 1958
  • Thamnophis sauritus nitae – ROSSMAN 1963

Description: Average adult size is 18–25 inches (45.7-63.5 cm), record is 30 inches (76.2 cm). Adults are slender-bodied, bluish–olive to blue–black with an indistinct mid-dorsal stripe, and a light blue stripe on each side of the body occupying the 3nd and 4th dorsal scale rows above the belly. There are few light whitish fleckings on each side above the lateral stripes. There is a distinct white spot in front of the eye. The belly is uniform yellowish-green. A complete tail is up to one–third of the total body length. The scales are keeled and there are 19 dorsal scale rows at midbody. The pupil is round. Juveniles are similar to adults.

Thamnophissauritus illustration

A. Top of the head
B. Underside of the head (chin and throat)
C. Keeled scales
D. Front (face view) of the head
E. Side of the head

Range: In Florida, the Bluestripe Ribbon Snake occurs along the Gulf coast from eastern Wakulla County in the panhandle south to Hernando County in the central peninsula. It is not found outside of Florida.

Habitat: Commonly found in pinelands, hardwood hammocks, cypress strands, prairies, marshes, streams, ponds, and bogs.

Comments: HARMLESS (Non-Venomous). The Bluestripe Ribbon Snake is semiaquatic and active during the day. It is frequently found along the banks of canals and ditches, and around houses in residential areas. After heavy rains, it is sometimes found at night crossing roads in search of food. It feeds on small fishes, frogs, salamanders, and earthworms.

Comparison with other species: The Peninsula Ribbon Snake (Thamnophis sauritus sackenii) and Eastern Ribbon Snake (Thamnophis sauritus sauritus) have a distinct mid-dorsal stripe, and light stripes (not light blue) on their sides occupying the 3rd and 4th dorsal scale rows above the belly. The Common Garter Snake (Thamnophis sirtalis) is thicker–bodied and has black-outlined scales on the upper lip.