Other common names
Rough Earth Snake
Most adult Rough Earthsnakes are about 7-10 inches (18-26 cm) in total length. These are small glossy brown or grayish-brown snakes with a light yellow or cream-colored belly. The head is small with a distinctly pointed snout. A faint light ring may be present around the neck. Juveniles are darker than adults and have a white to light gray ring around the neck.
Rough Earthsnakes occur in the western half of the Panhandle and in the northern peninsula south to Alachua County.
Assessment of risk to people and pets
Non-venomous. Rough Earthsnakes are not dangerous to people or pets.
Comparison with other species
Ring-necked Snake (Diadophis punctata) Non-venomous Southern Ring-necked Snakes have smooth scales and they are grayish-black with a distinct neck ring and a yellow-orange belly.
Pine Woods Littersnake (Rhadinaea flavilata) Non-venomous Pine Woods Littersnakes are reddish-brown in color and have smooth scales and a whitish upper lip.
Red-bellied Snake (Storeria occipitomaculata) Non-venomous Red-bellied Snakes have a light spot under the eye, a light band across the back of neck, small spots on the back, and sometimes a red belly.
Florida Brownsnake (Storeria victa) Non-venomous Florida Brownsnakes have spots or flecking on the back and sides.
Southeastern Crowned Snake (Tantilla coronata) Non-venomous Southeastern Crowned Snakes have smooth scales and a black head and neck.
Florida Crowned Snake (Tantilla relicta) Non-venomous Florida Crowned Snakes have smooth scales and a black head and neck.
Smooth Earthsnake (Virginia valeriae) Non-venomous Smooth Earthsnakes have smooth scales and the snout is less pointed.
Adult Rough Earthsnakes in Florida are about 7-10 inches (18-26 cm) in total length, with a record length recorded of 12.8 inches (32.4 cm). These are small glossy brown or grayish-brown snakes with a light yellow or cream-colored belly. The head is small with a distinctly pointed snout. A faint light-colored ring may be present around the neck. There are 17 scale rows at midbody, and the scales on the body are keeled (each scale has a prominent raised ridge). The pupils are round. Juveniles are darker than adults and have a white to light gray ring around the neck.
Rough Earthsnakes are commonly found in hardwood hammocks and pine flatwoods. However, these secretive snakes often remain hidden beneath leaflitter, logs, rocks, or other surface cover. Adults and juveniles of this species are often found in suburban neighborhoods where development encroaches into favorable habitats.
These inoffensive snakes do not bite in defense. If captured, Rough Earthsnakes will typically squirm vigorously and release foul-smelling musk from two glands in the base of the tail.
Rough Earthsnakes feed primarily on earthworms. However, they will also eat various insects, and insect larvae. These snakes are not constrictors. Prey are typically grasped, quickly repositioned, and swallowed alive.
In Florida, females give live birth to 2-12 young between July and October. Newborns are tiny and only measure about 4 inches (10 cm) in total length.
No subspecies of Rough Earthsnake are currently recognized. These snakes were switched from the genus Virginia to Haldea in 2013.
Rough Earthsnakes can be locally abundant in parts of their range, including in residential areas. However, these small and secretive snakes are rarely seen unless they are disturbed from their hiding places during yardwork or heavy rains. Otherwise, they are typically found by actively searching for them under rocks, logs, or other surface cover.
Rough Earthsnakes are typically active at night, dawn, and dusk during the hotter summer months, but they may become more active during the day in the spring and fall.
County data coming soon.
If you have a new or interesting observation for this species, please email the herpetology staff at the Florida Museum.
Ernst, C.H. and E.M. Ernst. 2003. Snakes of the United States and Canada. Smithsonian Institution Press, Washington, DC. 668 pp.
Krysko, K.L., K.M. Enge, and P.E. Moler. 2019. Amphibians and Reptiles of Florida. University of Florida Press, Gainesville, Florida. 706 pp.
McVay, J.D. and B. Carstens. 2013. Testing monophyly without well-supported gene trees: Evidence from multi-locus nuclear data conflicts with existing taxonomy in the snake tribe Thamnophiini. Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution 68(3): 425–431.
Powell, R., R. Conant, and J.T. Collins. 2016. Peterson Field Guide to Reptiles and Amphibians of Eastern and Central North America. Fourth edition. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company, Boston and New York. xiv + 494 pp.
Share your observations
You can help scientists better understand the biology and distribution of this species by sharing your observations. Send photos or videos of interesting observations, along with associated information, by emailing the herpetology staff at the Florida Museum for documentation in the Museum’s Herpetology Master Database. You can also post your observations on iNaturalist.
Additional helpful information
Do you have snakes around your house? Learn how to safely co-exist with snakes.
Still have questions about snakes or identifications? Feel free to email the herpetology staff at the Florida Museum with your questions or feedback on this profile.
Banner photo courtesy J.D. Wilson/iNaturalist/CC-BY-NC-4.0 Please credit all photographers and see our copyright policy.