Queen snakes. The name alone lets you conjure images of enormous and venomous snakes lurking across land or water and sneakily preying on helpless victims. Whenever you hear about the name, you might easily associate them with king cobras or other notoriously venomous snakes that are feared in any range or habitat they settle in. But in reality, the queen snake is the exact opposite of all that!
While the name “queen snake” suggests the snake’s capacity to reign over any other snake species because of their vigor and ferociousness, queen snakes are actually docile. They are not venomous, contrary to what their name would imply, and they rarely bite when caught. In fact, queen snakes make good pets not only because they are calm and gentle but also because they are very easy to care for. But since they are called “queen snakes,” does that mean they are large and heavy? Queen snakes are only small-sized and are not heavy as well. But what is the largest queen snake size ever recorded? That’s what we are about to find out in this article and more!
How Long Do Queen Snakes Grow?
The queen snake is a short, slender snake species that grows between 15 and 24 inches (1.5 to 2 feet) long. Females are often larger than males. From nose to tail tip, the species’ longest members typically measure no more than 24 inches. However, the queen snake’s maximum reported length was 37 inches.
Since they are a relatively small species, added by their docile nature, queen snakes are commonly kept as pets.
How Long is the Largest Queen Snake Ever Found?
Although there has not been one specific queen snake found to be considered the largest of them all, the largest queen snake on record measured 37 inches long. Queen snakes typically grow up to 24 inches, but some specimens from different habitat ranges in the United States and Canada were found to reach a maximum of 37 inches long. While there were no specific records of these queen snakes, there have not been other sightings or reports of the same snake species overcoming the maximum length either.
What Do Queen Snakes Look Like?
Most queen snakes are gray, olive green, or dark brown. They usually feature yellow or peach stripes from the first row of scales to the tip of the tail. Four darker stripes accompany these lighter stripes. The queen snake is the only species with stripes running longitudinally on its belly, making it simple to recognize. Garter snakes, another nonvenomous North American species from the genus Thamnophis in the family Colubridae, have a similar appearance and behavior to queen snakes.
The head of the queen snake is slender, with nine major scales on top. They have thicker scales in many rows beneath the chin to protect them from abrasion when they seek prey beneath rocks. When slithering beneath big boulders, the top and chin scales of the head work together to prevent crushing. Their pupils are rounded as well.
Where Are Queen Snakes Found?
Endemic to North America, only east of the Mississippi River, from Southern Ontario to Northern Florida, can you find the queen snake. They thrive in the states of Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Florida, Arkansas, Tennessee, West Virginia, Virginia, Delaware, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Illinois, Maryland, Indiana, Michigan, Wisconsin, and New York. The snakes were once common in New Jersey but are now extinct.
A watershed or land that conducts precipitation from rain or snow into streams, lakes, creeks, and rivers, is their ideal home. Groundwater, trees, and stones are abundant in these swamps, wetlands, marshes, and other regions, which give hunting grounds and shelter. These semi-aquatic snakes also reside behind large boulders, among tree roots, and even in tree branches, where they like basking in the sun. If disturbed in their natural habitat, they will either fall from a tree branch into the water below or slither into the water to swim away.
How Did The Queen Snake Get Its Name?
The moniker “queen snake” originates from the snake’s Latin scientific name, Regina septemvittata. Septemvittata means “seven stripes,” and Regina means “queen.” Regina septemvittata is known by various names, depending on where the snakes are found. Moon snake, leather snake, olive water snake, pale snake, banded water snake, diamond-back water snake, North American seven-banded snake, willow snake, striped water snake, and yellow-bellied snake are some of the names given to these snakes.
Are Queen Snakes Aggressive?
Given their non-venomous nature and relatively small size, queen snakes are no species to be threatened by. Queen snakes are non-lethal and extremely fearful of humans. They also rarely bite and, if caught, are easy to handle, posing no threat to people. Dropping from trees into the water, swimming quickly away from the predator, and remaining out of sight are the reptile’s best defenses. When a human or other animal, such as a garter snake, picks them up, they exude foul-smelling feces or anal musk.
Queen snakes are also not pests as they are important in crayfish population management. Crayfish account for over 90 percent of the snake’s daily food. The snake uses its excellent sense of smell to seek these crustaceans. When the shelled animals are molting, and their soft bodies are revealed, that’s when they prey on them. Crayfish cannot easily damage the snake in defense since they are usually molting when chased.
The snake is diurnal, meaning it is most active during the day and sleeps at night. However, it comes out at night for hunting or other activities. Queen snakes hibernate behind bridges, huge boulders, urban structures, and other elevated, dry habitats throughout the winter.
What Do Queen Snakes Eat?
Queen snakes primarily feed on crayfish and prefer to eat recently molted crayfish to avoid consuming the hard exoskeletons. Tadpoles, frogs, snails, newts, minnows, and fairy shrimp are also consumed by queen snakes. At the same time, larger predators such as herons, otters, hawks, mink, and raccoons rely on them for sustenance. A crayfish with its shell intact may occasionally hunt down and consume baby queen snakes. These newborns are born alive and self-sufficient from the beginning, which makes them vulnerable to attack.
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