Plants and Animals

Regina septemvittata Queen snake

Key Characteristics

The Queen snake is a small-headed, slender brown, olive, or gray snake with a light yellowish stripe on each side. They range is size from 13.4 - 36.3 inches (34-92.2 cm). Three dark dorsal stripes may be visible in young and some adults. The chin and throat are yellow, and so too is the belly, with four brownish lengthwise stripes that may merge toward the tail.

Status and Rank

US Status: No Status/Not Listed
State Status: SC - Special Concern (rare or uncertain; not legally protected)
Global Rank: G5 - Secure
State Rank: S2S3 - Rank is uncertain, ranging from imperiled to vulnerable


CountyNumber of OccurrencesYear Last Observed
Cass 1 1964
Kent 1 2017
Monroe 1 2006
Muskegon 2 2011
Tuscola 1 2002
Washtenaw 3 2019

Information is summarized from MNFI's database of rare species and community occurrences. Data may not reflect true distribution since much of the state has not been thoroughly surveyed.


Queen snakes require moving water and are usually found along aquatic plants, overhanging shrubs, or among or under rocks at the water's edge.  Warm, shallow streams with shrubs and trees nearby are the preferred habitat.  They also imhabit the edges of ponds, lakes, marshes, ditches, and canals, wherever an abundance of crayfish are found.  If disturbed, they dive into water and either hide near the bottom or swim along the shore for a short distance before re-emerging.  Queen snakes are diurnal species, and spend much of the day concealed beneath flat rocks or woody debris on the shoreline.

Natural Community Types

For each species, lists of natural communities were derived from review of the nearly 6,500 element occurrences in the MNFI database, in addition to herbarium label data for some taxa. In most cases, at least one specimen record exists for each listed natural community. For certain taxa, especially poorly collected or extirpated species of prairie and savanna habitats, natural community lists were derived from inferences from collection sites and habitat preferences in immediately adjacent states (particularly Indiana and Illinois). Natural communities are not listed for those species documented only from altered or ruderal habitats in Michigan, especially for taxa that occur in a variety of habitats outside of the state.

Natural communities are not listed in order of frequency of occurrence, but are rather derived from the full set of natural communities, organized by Ecological Group. In many cases, the general habitat descriptions should provide greater clarity and direction to the surveyor. In future versions of the Rare Species Explorer, we hope to incorporate natural community fidelity ranks for each taxon.

Management Recommendations

A preference for narrow streamside habitats leaves these snakes especially vulnerable to direct human persecution, often by fishermen who believe them to be dangerous or a threat to game fish. Public education is needed to inform the general public that these snakes pose no threat. This is a very specialized snake that is likely vulnerable to various forms of pollution or stream alterations. Wide buffers around agricultural streams are needed to prevent siltation from farm fields as well as to help eliminate chemical runoff that may threaten the crayfish or insect larvae that these snakes depend on for a food source.

Active Period

Active from first week of April to fourth week of September

Breeding from first week of May to fourth week of May

Nesting from fourth week of July to second week of September

Survey Methods

The best way to survey for this species is to conduct visual encounter surveys in May and June when the snakes are most active and most visible. Visual surveys should consist ideally of multiple surveyors walking through suitable habitat looking for individuals on the surface or under cover. Queen snakes are often found basking on artificially created dikes, muskrat houses, rocks, or other elevated sites. Cover board surveys also can be conducted in conjunction with visual surveys. These would consist of placing cover boards in areas with suitable habitat and turning over the boards and rocks during the day and looking for snakes under the boards.

Cover board survey

Survey Period: From first week of May to third week of September

Time of Day: Daytime

Visual encounter surveys

Survey Period: From first week of May to third week of September

Time of Day: Daytime
Cloud Cover: Clear
Air Temperature: Above 60 degrees


Survey References

  • Fitch, H.S. 1951. A simplified type of funnel trap for reptiles. Herpetologica 7:77-80.
  • Karns, D.R. 1986. Field Herpetology: Methods for the Study of Amphibians and Reptiles in Minnesota. Occ. Pap. No. 18. J.F. Bell Museum of Natural History, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis.

Technical References

  • Gibbs, James, P., Alvin R. Breisch, Peter K. Ducey, Glenn Johnson, John L. Behler, and Richard C. Bothner. 2007. The Amphibians and Reptiles of New York State: Identification, Natural History, and Conservation. Oxford University Press, Inc. New York, New York. 422 pp.
  • Harding, J.H. 1997.Amphibians and Reptiles of the Great Lakes Region. The University of Michigan Press, Ann Arbor. 378pp.