Amphibians

Reptiles

Western Smooth Earthsnake (Virginia valeriae elegans)

Description

This small snake is a near-uniform brown, reddish-brown, yellowish-brown, or light gray. Sometimes a very faint middorsal stripe is present. Its belly is cream-colored or yellowish.

This species can be distinguished from the similar-looking Flat-headed Snake (Tantilla gracilis) by considering the belly coloration, which is salmon pink in the Flat-headed Snake. However, it is not easily distinguished from the Rough Earthsnake (Virginia striatula):

Rough Earthsnake (Virginia striatula) W. Smooth Earthsnake (Virginia valeriae elegans)
  • Dorsal scales strongly keeled
  • 1 postocular scale
  • 1 internasal scale
  • 5 supralabial scales
  • Dorsal scales smooth or weakly keeled
  • 2 postocular scales
  • 2 internasal scales
  • 6 supralabial scales

Habitats

This species can be found hiding under rocks, logs, or man-made debris in a variety of habitats. They may occasionally be turned up while raking through leaf litter.


Habits and Life History

This secretive borrower presumably follows an activity pattern similar to other snakes, with most activity occurring in spring. Females give birth to live young (rather than laying eggs) in late summer or early fall.


Prey and Hunting Techniques

This species primarily eats earthworms, but other small, soft-bodied prey may also be consumed. It is presumably an active forager that finds its prey in burrows and small cracks.


Temperament and Defense

This species will not bite if handled gently. It has little in the way of defense other than its small size and secretive nature.


Conservation

This species is currently afforded no special protections in the state.


State Distribution and Abundance

This species is found throughout most of the state, but is absent from Crowley's Ridge and the Mississippi Delta (although one specimen is known from Mississippi County). It is less frequently encountered than its sympatric cousin, the Rough Earthsnake, but may be locally abundant in certain areas.

Gallery

Western Smooth Earthsnake Western Smooth Earthsnake Western Smooth Earthsnake Western Smooth Earthsnake Western Smooth Earthsnake Western Smooth Earthsnake Western Smooth Earthsnake Western Smooth Earthsnake Western Smooth Earthsnake Western Smooth Earthsnake Western Earth Snake Western Earth Snake Western Earth Snake Western Earth Snake Western Earth Snake Western Earth Snake Western Earth Snake Western Earth Snake Western Earth Snake Western Earth Snake Western Earth Snake Western Earth Snake Western Earth Snake AHS 2006 Spring Field Trip / Western Earth Snake AHS 2006 Spring Field Trip / Western Earth Snake AHS 2006 Spring Field Trip / Western Earth Snake Western Earth Snake Western Earth Snake Western Earth Snake Western Earth Snake Western Earth Snake Western Earth Snake Western Earth Snake Western Earth Snake Western Earth Snake Western Earth Snake Western Earth Snake Western Earth Snake Western Earth Snake Western Earth Snake Western Earth Snake Western Earth Snake

Contributors

  • kaptainkory May 10, 2006, at 03:06 PM (Original Contributor)

Bibliography

  • Behler, J. L., and F. W. King. 1979 (1987). The Audubon Society Field Guide to North American Reptiles and Amphibians. 3rd ed. Alfred A. Knopf, New York. 743 pp.
  • Conant, R., and J. T. Collins. 1998. A Field Guide to Reptiles and Amphibians of Eastern and Central North America. 3rd ed., Expanded. Houghton Mifflin Co., Boston. 616 pp.
  • Irwin, K. J. 2004. Arkansas Snake Guide. Arkansas Game and Fish Commission Pocket Guide. 50 pp.
  • Trauth, S. E., H. W. Robison, and M. V. Plummer. 2004. Amphibians and Reptiles of Arkansas. University of Arkansas Press, Fayetteville. 421 pp.

Discussion

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Page last modified on January 21, 2012, at 09:01 PM