This Red-bellied Snake was crossing an Arkansas country road I like to walk that is near my place in the Ouachita Mountains. I also photographed a Ring-necked Snake on this same day.

Red-bellied Snake
Red-bellied Snake

Arkansas is home to a diverse range of wildlife, including many species of snakes. One species that is not well-known but deserves attention is the Red-bellied Snake (Storeria occipitomaculata). This small and slender snake is native to the state and can be found in a variety of habitats, including forests, fields, and wetlands.


The Red-bellied Snake is named for the red or orange coloration on its belly, which is often visible when the snake is frightened and coiling up. However, the rest of its body is usually brown, gray, or black with a distinctive pattern of light and dark stripes or spots. It grows to a maximum length of about 15-18 inches.

Habitat and Diet

Red-bellied Snakes can be found throughout Arkansas, but they are most commonly encountered in the eastern part of the state. They prefer moist environments and are often found near water sources, such as streams, ponds, and swamps. They are also known to hide under rocks, logs, and leaf litter, as well as in crevices in tree bark.

These snakes feed primarily on small invertebrates, such as earthworms, slugs, and snails. They use their keen sense of smell to locate their prey and then swallow it whole.

Behavior and Conservation Status

Red-bellied Snakes are non-venomous and are not known to be aggressive towards humans. If threatened, they will usually try to escape or play dead.

The Red-bellied Snake is considered to be a species of “Least Concern” by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). However, like many other species, it is facing challenges due to habitat loss and degradation, as well as other human-induced factors such as pollution and the introduction of non-native species.


The Red-bellied Snake may be small and little-known, but it is a fascinating and important part of Arkansas’s rich biodiversity. By learning about this species and taking steps to protect its habitat, we can help to ensure that this unique reptile continues to thrive in the state for generations to come.

Gear Used:

  • Camera: Canon EOS 7D Mark II
  • Lens: Canon EF 100-400 mm f/4.5-5.6 L IS II USM


I got low while hand-holding my camera. I was lucky, and this snake stayed put while I photographed it.

  • Location: Near the Ouachita National Forest (Arkansas)
  • Date & Time Taken: June 26, 2016 (12:36:57 P.M.)
  • Aperture Priority
  • Aperture: f8.0
  • Shutter speed: 1/1250 sec. (as determined by the camera)
  • ISO: 640
  • Exposure Compensation: +1/3 EV
  • Focal Length: 400 mm

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