smooth greensnake

(Opheodrys vernalis)


This is a slender snake that is bright green above and greenish-white, cream, or light yellow below. Adults measure 11 7/8-20 in. (30.3-51 cm). Juveniles are similar to the adults, except that they are a paler color. This snake may be confused with the rough greensnake (Opheodrys aestivus), which is larger and has keeled dorsal scales. Mating occurs in spring and summer, and 3-12 eggs are laid in summer under rocks in loose, loamy soil. The young often hatch less than a month later. This species is usually found at grass level rather than in shrubbery although they are more arboreal in wet areas. It will hibernate in large groups in the north. Ant mounds seem to be favorite sites. Communal nesting sites have also been found. Little is none about the biology of this species in Virginia.


O. vernalis is found in upper elevations in the Blue Ridge and Ridge and Valley physiographic regions. It inhabits grassy fields, bogs, open woods, and bramble patches. It will sometimes take cover in rock piles and under logs. Its active season is doubtless limited by upper elevation temperatures and weather.


Insects and spiders make up the bulk of the diet for this species. It will also eat salamanders, snails, slugs, centipedes and millipedes. Prey are swallowed alive.