The queensnake (Regina septemvittata) is dark brown, with three slightly darker (often hard to see) stripes running down its back. A distinctive yellow stripe runs along the lower side of the body, and the belly is yellow with four distinct brown stripes. This species typically grows to 40 up to 60 centimetres in length.
No other Ontario snakes have a striped belly. Queensnakes are found in the same habitat as northern watersnakes. Young watersnakes are strongly patterned, but larger adults may be quite dark and have faint horizontal banding, whereas queensnakes have faint lateral banding, as well as the pronounced stripes along their sides.
This species is often found near streams, either basking or under rocks.
View an interactive map of the known ranges of queensnakes in Ontario.
Queensnakes mate soon after emerging from hibernation in the spring. The females give birth to live young late in the summer. A brood consists of approximately eight to 14 young. At birth, the young are approximately 20 centimetres in length.
The diet of the queensnake is one of the most restricted of any snake; it feeds almost exclusively on crayfish that have recently moulted. In the spring and fall, queensnakes may bask communally, even in low shrubs. Little is known about queensnake hibernation sites.
Other names: Coluber septemvittatus, Natrix septemvittata
Threats and Trends
The profound changes to the southern Ontario landscape, including wetland drainage, forest clearing and increasingly high human density, all threaten the survival of the queensnake. Dams can make habitat unsuitable for this species by altering stream flow. Queensnakes are more sensitive to environmental contamination than many other reptile species; pollution and other changes to water quality can affect crayfish habitat and subsequently threaten queensnake populations.
Current Status and Protection
The queensnake is currently listed as Endangered under both the Ontario Endangered Species Act, 2007 and the federal Species at Risk Act. The species has also been designated as a Specially Protected Reptile under the Ontario Fish and Wildlife Conservation Act. These acts offer some protection to individuals and their habitat. The International Union for Conservation of Nature lists the global status of the queensnake as Least Concern. The species’ status was last confirmed in March 2007.
Learn more about reptile and amphibian conservation and what you can do to help these species on our Reptile and Amphibian Stewardship page.
What You Can Do
- Report a sighting
- Get involved in reptile and amphibian conservation on your property, on the road and in your community
- Donate to support reptile and amphibian conservation
- Watch for reptiles and amphibians on the road
- Don’t release pet reptiles and amphibians into the wild
- Read more about the queensnake in the Ontario Reptile and Amphibians Atlas publication.