Eastern Smooth Earth Snake


Virginia valeriae
Virginia valeriae

Scientific name: Virginia valeriae valeriae (BAIRD & GIRARD 1853)
* Currently accepted name

* scientific names used through time

  • Virginia valeriae BAIRD & GIRARD 1853
  • Carphophis harperti DUMÉRIL, BIBRON & DUMÉRIL 1854
  • Virginia elegans KENNICOTT 1859
  • Virginia valeriae KENNICOTT 1859
  • Haldea valeriae CAMPBELL 1962
  • Virginia valeriae valeriae CONANT & COLLINS 1991

Description: Adults average 7-13 inches (18-33 cm). The record is 15.38 inches (39 cm). A small brown or reddish brown snake with a plain white or yellowish belly. May have tiny dark flecks on back, either scattered or in 4 rows. The head is small with a somewhat pointed snout. There are 15 dorsal scale rows at midbody. The scales are smooth, though faint keels may be present near the tail. Also, tiny faint lines on some scales may give the appearance of keels. The pupils are round.

Virginia valeriae

A. Top of the head
B. Underside of the head (chin and throat)
C. Smooth 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: The Eastern Smooth Earth Snake occurs occurs north of the Suwannee River and in the panhandle. A disjunct population occurs in Highlands County in central Florida. Outside of Florida, it occurs north to New Jersey and west to Alabama, northeastern Mississippi, and Ohio.

Habitat: Found in the leaf litter and under logs in mesic hammocks and pine woodlands, particularly near marshes and other damp areas. The disjunct southern Florida population also occurs in scrub.

Virginia valeriae
Virginia valeriae
Virginia valeriae

Comments: HARMLESS (Non-Venomous). The Eastern Smooth Earth Snake feeds primarily on earthworms, but takes other small invertebrates such as insects and snails. It spends most of the time underground, but found at the surface most often in the cooler months. It bears live young. Litters of 7-10 young are born in summer. They are 3-4.5 inches (7.6-11 cm) at birth.

Comparison with other species: The Rough Earth Snake (Virginia striatula) has keeled 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.