The Threatened Eastern Ribbonsnake
(Thamnophis sauritus)

Photo: T. Imlay

Description: The eastern ribbonsnake is a small harmless snake.  It can grow to be more than 60cm long, and has a distinctive jet-black body with three yellow lines running down its back from head to tail.

Range:  This snake occurs mainly in the southwestern part of Nova Scotia; however, presently very little is presently known about the distribution, abundance and population trends of the species.

Habitat: This snake is found mainly in wetlands and on shorelines; it is sometimes found in forests. It spends a lot of time at the water’s edge, where it often basks and hunts for food, including small frogs and fish.

Threats: Threats to this rare reptile include: habitat loss (from shoreline development and wetland modification) and predation, including predation by humans and pets.

Additional Information: This rare snake is one of several Species at Risk in Nova Scotia that live a great distance from other populations in the main range. It appears to exist in small pockets, except in a few places where researchers have found it occurs in relatively high densities. For more information about the ribbonsnake, click here.


Get Involved!

Visual Surveys

Photos: D. Smith

What is it?
Visual surveys are literally walking through areas and searching for snakes. Data is collected on sampling effort, snake sightings and habitat use. If snakes are captured, they are marked, measured, weighed, sampled for DNA and some snakes are pit-tagged.

Why are we doing it?  
Visual surveys have two goals: 1) better define our understanding of ribbonsnake habitat use through an extensive study of the Grafton Lake area, and 2) locate additional populations in Nova Scotia. Grafton Lake in Kejimkujik has one of the largest known ribbonsnake populations in Nova Scotia. Visual surveys have been on-going there for several years, which is establishing the first long-term snake data set in Nova Scotia. Studying this population offers insight into habitat use, movement and population dynamics, essential information for species conservation. Additionally, surveying other areas helps determine species distribution and density in southern Nova Scotia.

Making a difference 
At Grafton Lake volunteers have assisted researchers and park staff in ribbonsnake visual surveys in spring and fall for the past few years.  In 2006, volunteers contributed more than 500 hours to the collection of this data throughout the spring, summer and fall. Researchers also located another sizeable population within Kejimkujik, near Cobrielle Lake. The public reported more than 10 ribbonsnake sightings; visual surveys were conducted in some of these areas and will be followed up again in the future.

Don't miss it this year! 
Visual surveys occur at least once a week, from early spring to late fall at Grafton Lake. Other sites in southern Nova Scotia are surveyed as located and as time allows throughout this time period. Contact us to see what's snakin'!!


Cover Board Surveys

Photo: T. Imlay

Photo: T. Imlay

What is it?
Cover board surveys involve placing wooden planks and other materials in areas where ribbonsnakes may exist, then checking under and around them regularly for snakes. It is hoped that snakes will be attracted to these boards either as cover to hide under or as heat surfaces on which to bask. Different materials are being used to test the snake’s response to a variety of types of cover boards such as wood, landscape cloth and sheet metal.

Why are we doing it?  
Experimental cover board surveys are being conducted to determine if snakes are attracted to the boards. If successful, cover board surveys will be a useful method of determining ribbonsnake presence in new survey areas as well as monitoring abundance in known areas.

Don't miss it this year!  
Experimental cover board surveys are being conducted regularly this summer and fall in several locations. Contact us to get involved!




Kejimkujik Area Stewardship Programs
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