Rough Earth Snake


Virginia striatula
Virginia striatula

Scientific name: Virginia striatula (LINNAEUS 1766)
* Currently accepted name

* scientific names used through time

  • Coluber striatulus LINNAEUS 1766
  • Natrix striatulus MERREM 1820
  • Haldea striatula BAIRD & GIRARD 1853
  • Conocephalus striatulus DUMÉRIL & BIBRON 1854
  • Falconeria bengalensis THEOBALD 1868 (fide BAUER & DAS 1999)
  • Potamophis striatulus ALLEN 1932
  • Virginia striatula CONANT & COLLINS 1991

Description: Average adult size is 7-10 inches (18-25.4 cm). The record is 12.75 inches (32.4 cm). A small glossy brown or gray brown snake with a light yellow or cream belly. The head is small with a distinctly pointed snout. A faint light ring may be present around the neck. There are 17 dorsal scale rows at midbody, and the scales are keeled. The pupils are round. Juveniles are darker than adults and have a white to light gray ring around the neck.

Virginia striatula

A. Top of the head
B. Underside of the head (chin and throat)
C. Keeled scales
D. Side of the head
E. Front (face view) of the head
F. Elongated scales below the tail (subcaudal scales) are typically divided

Range: In Florida, the Rough Earth Snake occurs in the western half of the panhandle and northern peninsula. Outside of Florida, it occurs north to Virginia and west to Missouri, Texas, Oklahoma, and southeastern Kansas. It is absent from most of the Mississippi River floodplain.

Habitat: Found under leaf litter and just below the soil surface in drier hammocks and pine flatwoods.

Virginia striatula
Virginia striatula
Virginia striatula

Comments: HARMLESS (Non-Venomous). The Rough Earth Snake feeds almost exclusively on earthworms, although ant larvae may also be consumed. Its pointed snout facilitates burrowing in the moist soil where its prey is found. Can be found under flat debris such as boards and old sheet metal roofing. The rough earth snake bears live young. Litters of 3-8 young are born in summer. They are 3-4.5 inches (7.6-11 cm) at birth.

Comparison with other species: The Eastern Smooth Earth Snake (Virginia valeriae) has smooth scales and a less pointed snout. The Pine Woods Snake (Rhadinaea flavilata) has smooth scales and a whitish upper lip. The Ringneck Snake (Diadophis punctatus) has smooth scales and is grayish-black with a distinct neck ring and a yellow-orange belly. Dekay's Brown Snake (Storeria dekayi) have spots or flecking on the back and sides.