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Canadian Amphibian and Reptile Conservation Network - Réseau Canadien de 
Conservation des Amphibiens et des Reptiles

Regina septemvittata
Couleuvre Royale / Queensnake


Couleuvre à Royale

The Queensnake, and other live-bearing, harmless snakes, which were included within the Family Colubridae, have recently been placed in the Family Natricidae.

Description
The Queensnake can grow to almost a meter in length. It is a uniform brown, but the colour varies from tan to almost black. There is a yellow stripe along the lower side of the body and the belly is also yellow with four distinct brown stripes.

Confusing Species
No other snake in the Queensnake's range has a striped belly. The Red-bellied Snake can be dark and fairly uniform in colour on top, but it only grows to about 40 cm in length. The belly, of course, is red, however, some individuals do have orangey or yellowy bellies. Queensnakes are often found in the same habitat as Northern Water Snakes. Young water snakes are strongly patterned but larger adults may be quite dark.

Distribution
The Queensnake is limited to extreme southwestern Ontario. Even within this area its distribution is quite restricted. South of Canada, the Queensnake ranges over much of the eastern US, as far south as Florida.

Habitat
This snake is usually found along streams and rivers with rocky shorelines and bottoms. Occasionally it will be found in marshy areas. It is seldom found more than a few meters from water.

Reproduction
Queensnakes mate soon after emerging from hibernation in the spring. They give live birth to their young late in the summer. One female can give birth to up to 23 young however, half this number is more common. At birth the young are approximately 20 cm in length.

Natural History
The Queensnake is often found on land near streams, either basking or under rocks. In the spring and fall communal basking may occur. Basking may even occur in low shrubs. The diet of this species is one of the most restricted of any snake. It feeds almost exclusively on crayfish. There is little known about hibernation sites.

Conservation Concerns
At the northern limit of its range in southwestern Ontario, the Queensnake is likely normally less abundant than farther south. The profound changes to the landscape of this area -- wetland drainage, forest clearing and high human density -- all threaten the survival of the Queensnake. Dams can make habitat unsuitable for Queensnakes by altering stream flow. Queensnakes are designated Threatened in Canada by COSEWIC.