rough earthsnake

(Virginia striatula)


The adult is grayish to reddish-brown above and cream, pinkish or greenish-white below. The body is moderately stout and the snout is pointed. This snake grows to a maximum length of about 11 inches. Juveniles are darker than adults at birth, and possess a cream to yellow crossband on the back of the black head. Body color and the crossband darken with age, but may not become completely obscure. This species is seldom seen because of their secretive habits. They will come out during heavy summer rains. They have been found hibernating with masses of copperheads, ribbon snakes, lizards, frogs and toads. This snake will not bite upon capture but may emit musk from glands at the base of the tail or even feces. They are known to “play dead,” becoming rigid with mouth open and tongue protruding. This species may be preyed on by mole snakes, scarlet snakes, milk snakes, raccoons, opossums, large spiders, certain beetles and toads. Movements occur at night and at dusk, especially in the warm months.


Virginia striatula occurs in southeastern Virginia, eastern Mecklenburg County and south of the Rappahannock River. This species is found among decaying logs and rotting stumps in open woodlands, grassy areas, suburban woodlots, and along field edges. It is also found underground in loose soil. It may prefer wetter areas than the smooth earthsnake.


This species feeds on predominantly on earthworms, but will also eat snails, ant eggs, and soft-bodied insects.