eastern smooth earthsnake

(Virginia valeriae valeriae)


This is a dark gray snake with an irregular pattern of tiny black flecks or spots on the back and a cream-colored belly. Occasionally it may be reddish-brown. There may be a short, dark line in front of the eye. It grows to a maximum length of about 12 inches. This species has smooth dorsal scales except for faint keels on parts of the tail. The juveniles has the same color and pattern as the adult. Mating probably occurs in the spring and fall. In July and August, 2-9 young are born live. This species is usually underground but will come out during heavy summer rains. When picked up, it seldom bites, but will play dead, give off a musk from the glands at the base of the tail, or release feces when captured.


This snake occurs statewide. It is most abundant in rich deciduous woodlands, although it may be found in fields, pastures, or gardens where the soil is loose enough to burrow into. Rotting logs and stumps are a favorite shelter, as is trash found near abandoned homesites and barns.


This species will consume earthworms, small slugs, snails, soft-bodied insects and insect larvae