northern rough greensnake

(Opheodrys aestivus aestivus)


This species is plain light green above and white, cream or yellow underneath, often with a greenish cast. The body is very slender and the head is wider than the neck. The adults average 22-32 in. (56-81 cm) in length. Juveniles are patterned and colored as adults, except that juveniles are a paler green color. The rough greensnake may be confused only with the smooth greensnake (Opheodrys vernalis). The latter is similar in color but is smaller and has smooth scales. The females lay up to a dozen eggs in rotting logs or stumps during June or July. The eggs hatch in late summer. This snake is distinctly arboreal in nature and does most of its activity in trees, low bushes, or tall grass. It is docile and will not bite. It seeks escape from predators by climbing into dense vegetation where it is difficult to see.


Opheodrys aestivus occurs statewide in Virginia, except for the New River drainage. It is usually found in areas of thick, green vegetation. Small trees, bushes, briar patches, and tangles of vines are favorite areas. They are exceptionally attracted to lush green vegetation overhanging streams. They are found in gardens and are able to maintain their populations in developed areas as long as adequate greenery is left in backyards and parks. This is the only arboreal snake in Virginia.


This species eats mainly grasshoppers, crickets, caterpillars, spiders, small frogs, and snails or slugs.