Great Plains Natural Science Society


The Prairie Naturalist

Date of this Version


Document Type



The Prairie Naturalist • 50(2): December 2018


Published by the Great Plains Natural Science Society. Used by permission.


Storeria occipitomaculata is a small, terrestrial species of snake that occurs across much of eastern North America (Ernst and Barbour 1989, Ernst 2002, Ernst and Ernst 2003). Due to this widespread distribution, S. occipitomaculata faces varied climates that likely result in regional differences in reproductive phenology. Much of what is known about the reproductive ecology of S. occipitomaculata has been documented from the southeastern portion of its range in North America (South Carolina: Semlitsch and Moran 1984, North Carolina: Willson and Dorcas 2004), though Blanchard (1937) studied a population from northern Michigan. The exact reproductive timing in this species has been difficult to determine due to the longevity of sperm in female oviducts (Trapido 1940), but reproduction is suspected to occur throughout the spring, summer, and fall (Wright and Wright 1957, Fitch 1970). In eastern North America, multiple sources report reproduction in this species as occurring in the spring and fall (e.g., DeGraaf and Rudis 1983, Mitchell 1994, Beane et al. 2010), with direct observations of copulation reported in May (North Carolina: Palmer and Braswell 1995), July (New York: Bishop 1927), and September (Kentucky: Cupp et al. 2012, New York: Trapido 1940, Pennsylvania: Meshaka 2010). Fewer details are available on when this species reproduces in the northern Great Plains along the western boundary of its distribution, with a single published observation of a road-killed female found in August in Manitoba, Canada, with a copulatory plug, suggesting recent copulation (Gregory 1977).