Dekay’s Brown Snake (Storeria dekayi): Can they become good pets?

Dekay’s Brown Snake is one of the most common species of snakes found in America.

30-Sec Summary

🪱 Brown Snake Venomous Streak – Non-Venomous in Nature

🐍 Brown Snake Price – $50-$80

🍴 Brown Snakes Hunt – Earthworms, Pull Snails, Insects

🌳 Typically found hiding under – Hollow logs, rock crevices, unused animal burrows, and leaf litter

Common Name:Dekay’s Brown Snake
Scientific Name:Storeria dekayi
Most Loved Foods:Amphibians, Insects, Terrestrial Non-Insect Arthropods, Mollusks, Terrestrial worms
Known Predators:Large Frogs, Toads, Snakes, American Crows, Hawks
Communication:Touch and Smell
Habitat:Temperate, Terrestrial
Mating System:Polygynous
Do they lay eggs?:Yes
Breeding Season:Spring and Fall
Breeding Frequency:Once a Year
Brown Snake Lifespan:Up to 7 Years
Color:brown, light brown or grey
Average Length:9 – 13 in. (23 – 33 cm)

But, much like many other snake species, they are very shy, secretive, and come out only in the dark of the night to prey on small snails, and insects. This is why there is very little known about them and people often confuse them with other, more known species.

Dekay’s Brown Snakes are non-venomous, very small in size snakes that live hidden for a large part of their lives, and owing to their size, they are considered to be harmless. This is one of the reasons why these snakes are often kept as pets by those who love reptiles.

Dekay’s Brown Snake (Storeria dekayi)– What do they look like?

Look what Tarah found in her backyard(source).

Wild Brown snakes are typically brown in color or in some cases even grayish-brown with a white stripe that runs through their body on the back.

This stripe is bordered with tiny black dots on either side, sometimes in a checkboard pattern which is why they are sometimes referred to as spotted brown snakes.

The underside of these snakes is white or tan, with a black spot on the top of their head and their eyes, black sideburns, and black parentheses like marks on both sides of the neck. Brown snakes are small, growing up to only 1 foot and have keeled scales.

These scales are so tiny that they are not visible to the naked eyes. Because these are secretive snakes by nature, very little is known about them and they often get mistaken with Red-Bellied snakes and small Garter snakes.

Brown Snake Characteristics and How They Behave

Storeria Dekayi

Wildlife is all about size, and most smaller creatures have a natural instinct of hiding for safety.

But when these tiny creatures feel threatened, they are also equipped to get aggressive for self-defense, more than anything else. The same is the case with snakes.

But, that is far from true for Dekay’s Brown Snakes. Although they do flatten their head and make a triangular shape, staring straight at you, they don’t possess any venom that will harm you. So, the notion of every snake creating the triangular head is for the attack is again untrue.

Dekay’s Brown Snakes are Anything But Harmful

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These snakes mostly operate at night. So, the highest chances of finding them are under flat rocks, loose stones, woodblocks, bushes, and any other stuff that has been lying around in your garden or backyard for a long. This is because they are used to living around rocky mountains.

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As we mentioned, Dekay’s Brown Snakes are non-venomous, so there is no danger of getting harmed by their bite. In fact, their heads are so small, that even if they do try to bite, they are physically incapable of causing any serious harm to an adult. As a defense mechanism, they do give out a foul-smelling musk when picked up.

So, professionals, who often handle them, wear gloves to abstain from that material spilling on their hands. Since their diet includes small snails and other insects flourishing in gardens and backyards, some people even keep space for them to hide so that they can finish off ill-causing small creatures harming your garden.

Recently spotted at Maryland

Dekay’s Brown Snakes as Pets

Unlike most other snakes, Dekay’s Brown Snakes make for great pets as they don’t require too much attention, and they are harmless.

They can survive and thrive in a variety of habitats and living conditions, making it easy for pet owners to provide them with the right homes. They are mostly found under a heap of dead leaves, bushes, stacked wood, stones, and similar damp conditions.

So, if you wish to keep Dekay’s Brown Snake as a pet, all you need to do is have a glass box, put some wet leaves, rocks, and woods – and are you good to go.

House Design for Dekay’s Brown Snakes

dekays brown snake home

These small snakes can be easily housed in a 10-gallon tank. Ideal for naturalistic terrariums stuffed along with living plants, they live happily in such spaces and exhibit a variety of behaviors.

The one thing that you should ensure is that a tank with a screen lid should be secured with cage clips as their tiny size allows them to sneak through even the smallest gaps.

A water bowl also works for them.

The brown snakes live in normal room temperatures, so no extra installations are required. If you do wish to provide some heat, make sure it doesn’t exceed 90-degree F. If gets too cold, it might go into hibernation. But that is a natural phenomenon.

Also read: How to identify Worm Snakes? Where to Find them?

Things to Take Care of While Keeping Brown Snakes as Pets:

Light and humidity

They require both humid and dry areas for best growth and survival. Too much or too little humidity can be dangerous. Use a hygrometer to maintain the right humidity level. These snakes are secretive and like to keep themselves hidden for most of the day. So, don’t use lights that emit too much heat. Whatever lights you use, keep them on a timer with 12 hours of light and 12 hours of darkness.

Also Read  Top 11 Most Dangerous Snakes in Thailand


These snakes mostly feed on small insects like worms, caterpillars, composite worms, beetles, slugs, grubs, crickets, soft-bodied grubs etc.

Make sure that you give them a mixture of all these insects and worms for them to have a healthy diet. You can provide them with these meals a few times a week.

Allow them to hunt so that their natural instincts are not dumbed down.

However, beware of their predators – large frogs, larger snakes, toads, American crows, hawks etc.

Snake Discovery team feeding Dekay’s Brown Snake

Breeding Season Brown Snakes

The females brown snake reaches sexual maturity at the age of 2 years. Well-adjusted snakes can give birth to 5-30 young ones several times between spring and fall – the prime breeding season for brown snakes.

The young brown snakes usually measure anything between 3 – 4.5 inches in length, but they are extremely alert and agile. These snakes usually require a quiet and dark environment to breed successfully, but that is not strict essentiality.

Brown Snake Lifespans

Another aspect you can benefit from knowing is that brown snakes enjoy 7 years’ average lifespan status.

Frequently Asked Questions about Dekay’s Brown Snake

Where can do find Dekay’s Brown Snakes?

Brown snakes are widespread across the US and they are found in a variety of habitats including urban areas, farms, backyards, gardens, and small forests.

These are very small in size and they usually keep themselves hidden in areas that provide little light and hot and humid conditions.

Can Northern Brown Snake attack humans?

Brown snakes are non-venomous and thus they are not harmful. Given their size, they are very unlikely to attack humans, and even if they do, their heads are too small to incur any harmful physical injury.

In fact, their secretive nature keeps them away from the public eye and they don’t come out very often. But if you do spot them in your backyard or front garden, don’t be scared, they can cause no harm.

How to identify a brown snake?

Usually brown in color, they have a white stripe that runs down their spine with black spots on either side that look like checkboard. The undersides are either white or tan in color.

Their heads and eyes also have black spots, black sideburns, and black parentheses-like marks on both sides of the neck. They also have keeled scales, but they are so small, that it is not clearly visible to the naked eye.

Since brown snakes are not as frequently visible as some other similar species, they are often mistaken for Red-Bellied snakes and small Gartersnakes.

Do Dekay’s Brown Snakes make for a good pet?

Snakes are usually safe to keep as pets, provided they are caged well. But unlike other species, that might require a lot of precautions, maintenance, and feeding, brown snakes are very low maintenance, and require normal conditions to survive.

And the best part is that these are very small in size and non-venomous.

A 10-gallon tank is enough for them. Provide some simple hideouts like wet leaves, stones, wooden blocks, or similar-looking plastic items.

Maintain a temperature not more than 90-degree F and a light that provides 12 hours of daylight and 12 hours of darkness.

They feed on small insects and worms that you should provide them a few times a week. With these simple processes, you can enjoy a small-little brown snake living with you. With well-adjusted snakes, they can also produce 5-30 off-springs several times between spring and fall.


James Ardimento has spent the last 12 years journeying around the globe ! With its precious experiences and tips he gained around Asia, South America, Europe and the US he is a precious asset for this blog and for its readers