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mountain earthsnake (Virginia valeriae pulchra)

Distribution Map

Distribution Map

Characteristics

This is a small nonvenomous snake reaching a maximum total length of about 13 inches. It is brown or gray with an irregular pattern of tiny black flecks. The belly and chin are cream in color. The adult females are larger than the males. Juveniles are patterned and colored as the adults. Up to 12 young are born in the late summer. This species usually stays underground except during heavy summer rains. When picked up they will seldom, if ever, bite.

Distribution

This snake is found in Virginia only in the northern corner of Highland County in the Appalachian Plateau region. This subspecies has a restricted distribution in the unglaciated Alleghany high plateaus that extend from Highland County, Virginia, northward through West Virginia and western Pennsylvania to southwestern New York. This species is found in rich deciduous woodlands, fields, pastures and gardens where the soil is loose enough to burrow into. Rotting logs and stumps are a favorite shelter. It is found in forested regions of deciduous hardwoods, mixed hardwood-pine associations, and in second growth areas. It is most frequently found in short, grassy slopes with sandstone rocks, especially in areas associated with deciduous forests near a stream.

Foods

They will consume primarily earthworms, but will also eat small slugs, snails, soft-bodied insects and insect larvae.

More Information

For more information, please visit the Virginia Fish & Wildlife Information Service (direct link to species booklet).