Eastern Smooth Earthsnake
Virginia valeriae valeriae

** Harmless **

Common Name:

Eastern Smooth Earthsnake

Scientific Name:

Virginia valeriae valeriae

Etymology:

Genus:

Virginia is derived from the Latin word virgo which means "virgin".

Species:

valeriae is to honor Miss Valeria Blaney, the first documented collector of the species.

Subspecies:

valeriae is to honor Miss Valeria Blaney, the first documented collector of the species.

Vernacular Names:

Blaney's snake, brown worm snake, eastern gray snake, gray snake, ground snake, smooth brown snake, spotted ground snake

Average Length:

7 - 10 in. (18 - 25.4 cm)

Virginia Record Length:

12.6 in. (32 cm)

Record length:

15.5 in. (39.3 cm)

PHYSICAL DESCRIPTION: This species has smooth dorsal scales except for faint keels on parts of the tail. There are 15 scale rows at midbody. This subspecies occurs statewide *1006*. Maximum known length in Virginia is 12.6in.(320mm) *10760*. Outside Virginia, the maximum known length of this species is 15.375 inches. Adults are usually 7-10 inches in length *11523*. The anal plate is divided, has two internasals, loreal scale is present and it has no preoculars; the dorsum of the body, head, and tail are a reddish brown to dark gray, adults often have an irreggular pattern of tiny black flecks or spots on the dorsum; venter is completely cream color; Virginia v. valeria has 15 dorsal scale rows at midbody where as the subspecies Virginia v. pulchra has 17 dorsal scale rows; adult females tend to be larger than the males and have on average higher numbers of ventral scales and lower numbers of subcaudal scales than the male *10760*. Juveniles have the same color and patterns as the adults, they have the dark line in front of the eye, but no light collar is behind the head *10760*.

REPRODUCTION: This species has up to 12 young which are born in the late summer *1006*. The snakes are viviparous, mating probably occurs in the spring and fall; known birth periods are in July and August, litters range in size from 2-9 in local studies *10760*.

BEHAVIOR: This species is usually underground but will come out during heavy summer rains. When picked up, they will seldom bite. They feed on earthworms, small slugs, snails, soft-bodied insects and insect larvae *1006*. They will sometimes act as if dead when picked up; sometimes give off a musk from the glands at the base of the tail and release feces when captured *10760*.

AQUATIC/TERRESTRIAL ASSOCIATIONS: This species is preyed on by mole snakes, scarlet snakes, milk snakes, raccoons and opossums. The young may be taken by large spiders, certain beetles and toads *1006*. Known predators of this species also include black racers (Coluber constrictor constrictor) and eastern kingsnakes (Lampropeltis getula getula) *11509,11499,11523*.

POPULATION PARAMETERS: The maximum known longevity is 9 years and 6 months *11523*.

References for Life History

  • 1006 - Linzey, D.W., M.J. Clifford, 1981, Snakes of Virginia, Univ. of Virginia Press, Charlottesville, VA
  • 10760 - Mitchell, J. C., 1994, The Reptiles of Virginia, 352 pgs., Smithsonian Institution Press, Washington, DC
  • 11499 - Palmer, W.M., A.L. Braswell, 1994, The Reptiles of North Carolina, UNC Press, Chapel Hill, NC
  • 11509 - Hurst, G. A., 1963, A Phenological Study of the Herpetofauna of William B. Umstead and Reedy Creek State Parks, Wake County, North Carolina, M.S. thesis, North Carolina State University, Raleigh, NC
  • 11523 - Thorp, T.J., 2001, Personal Communication, Expert Review for GAP Analysis Project, Three Lakes Nature Center and Aquarium

Photos:

*Click on a thumbnail for a larger version.


Verified County/City Occurrence

Alexandria City
Alleghany County
Amelia County
Amherst County
Bedford County
Botetourt County
Campbell County
Caroline County
Charles City County
Chesterfield County
Clarke County
Cumberland County
Danville City
Fairfax City
Fairfax County
Falls Church City
Fauquier County
Fluvanna County
Franklin County
Fredericksburg City
Gloucester County
Hampton City
Hanover County
Henrico County
Henry County
Highland County
James City County
Lancaster County
Lynchburg City
Mecklenburg County
New Kent County
Newport News City
Northumberland County
Page County
Petersburg City
Powhatan County
Prince George County
Prince William County
Richmond County
Scott County
Shenandoah County
Southampton County
Spotsylvania County
Stafford County
Suffolk City
Surry County
Virginia Beach City
Westmoreland County
Williamsburg City
York County
Verified in 50 Counties/Cities.



FROGS

Virginia is home to 28 species of frogs and toads.

SALAMANDERS

We have a large diversity of salamanders consisting of 56 different species and subspecies.

LIZARDS

Virginia is home to 9 native lizard species and two introduced species, the Mediterranean Gecko and the Italian Wall Lizard.

SNAKES

The Commonwealth is home to 34 species and subspecies of snake. Only 3 species are venomous.

TURTLES

Virginia has 25 species and subspecies of turtle. Five of these species are sea turtle.