Clonophis kirtlandiiKirtland's Snake

Geographic Range

Kirtland's snake can be found in the southeastern most parts of Michigan, most of Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, and north central Kentucky.


This snake prefers open damp areas like marsh edges and wet fields. This species also has been known to find its way near the outskirts of large cities (Pennsylvania Fish & Boat Commision 1999).

Physical Description

Kirtland's snakes can grow to roughly around two feet long. They have keeled scales on the upper body that are grayish in color, with two rows of small dark blotches and a row of larger dark blotches along the midline of the snake. They also have an under belly that is reddish with a row of black spots on each margin. The head is dark with a white chin and throat (Pennsylvania Fish & Boat Commission 1999).


Mating occurs in May and the female will give birth to her live young in late summer. The size of the litters usually ranges from 4 to 15 babies. The young snakes will grow rapidly in the first year and reach sexual maturity at the age of two (Harding 1997).


  • Average lifespan
    Status: captivity
    8.4 years


This snake is the least aquatic of the water snakes and when frightened the snake will flatten its body to protect itself (Rigg 1998).

Food Habits

This snake's preferred diet consists mainly of earthworms and slugs (Rigg 1998).

Conservation Status

The species is considered rare throughout its range. In Michigan it is considered "endangered" and in Indiana it is considered "threatened" (Harding 1997). Because this species likes to make its home around big cities it encounters development and pollution (Rigg 1998).


Karri Kauzlarich (author), Michigan State University, James Harding (editor), Michigan State University.



living in the Nearctic biogeographic province, the northern part of the New World. This includes Greenland, the Canadian Arctic islands, and all of the North American as far south as the highlands of central Mexico.

World Map

native range

the area in which the animal is naturally found, the region in which it is endemic.


Harding, J. 1997. Amphibians and Reptiles of the Great Lakes Region. MI: The University of Michigan Press.

Pennsylvania Fish & Boat Commision, "Kirtland's snake" (On-line). Accessed Noverber 17, 1999 at

Rigg, D. "Kirtland's Snake" (On-line). Accessed November 17, 1999 at