Rough Earthsnake
Haldea striatula

** Harmless **

Common Name:

Rough Earthsnake

Scientific Name:

Haldea striatula





striatula is derived from the Latin word stria which means "furrow".

Vernacular Names:

Brown ground snake, ground snake, little brown snake, little striped snake, small brown viper, small-eyed brown snake, striated viper, worm snake.

Average Length:

7 - 10 in. (18 - 25.4 cm)

Virginia Record Length:

11.6 in. (26.9 cm)

Record length:

12.8 in. (32.4 cm)

PHYSICAL DESCRIPTION: The adult is grayish to reddish-brown above and cream, pinkish or greenish-white below. The body is moderately stout and the snout is pointed. The juveniles are similar to the adults. The dorsal scales are strongly keeled with 17 scale rows and the anal plate divided. There are 5 upper labial scales. The loreal scale is present but the preocular scale is absent. This species is about 4 inches at birth and grows to from 8-10 inches with a maximum of slightly more than 12 inches *1006*. In VA., max total known SVL is 252 mm (9.9 in.) and max total length is 296 mm (11.6 in.). Tail length/total length ratio is 14.2-21.0 (avg. = 17.3+/-1.9, n=52).

SCUTELLATION: ventrals 114-133 (avg. = 121.4+/-4.2. m=58); subcaudals 28-45 (avg. = 37.7+/-3.5, n=52); ventrals + subcaudals 159.6+/-2.5 (155-167, n=52); dorsal scales keeled; scale rows 17 at midbody; anal plate usually divided; infralabials 6-6 (86.2%, n=58), other combinations of 5-7 (13.8%); supralabials 5-5 (92.2%, n=56), other combinations of 4-6 (7.6%); one internasal scale; loreal present; preoculars absent; postoculars 1-1; temporal scales usually 1+2/1+2 (62.9%, n=35), other combinations of 1-2 (37.1%).

COLORATION and PATTERN: dorsum of body uniform dark brown to gray without pattern; venter cream; head dark brown to black, particularly toward the snout; lower margin of supralabials, chin, and infralabials white; immatures and some adults may possess a faded, light brown to yellowish crossband across the posterior pareital scales.*10760*

SEXUAL DIMORPHISM: Adult females reach a larger average SVL (214.3+/-18.4 mm, 178-252, n=24) than adult males (181.4+/-13.5 mm, 160-205, n=19) and reach a longer total length (296 mm, males 252 mm). Sexual dimorphism index is 1.18. Tail length/total length ratio is higher in males (avg. = 19.5+/-0.7, 18-21.0, n=17) than females (avg. = 16.2+/-1.3, 14.2-20.3, n=35). Males have a lower average number of ventral scales (117.6+/-2.1, 114-122, n=23) but a higher average number of subcaudal scales (41.4+/-1.5, 39-44, n=17) than females (ventrals 123.9+/-3.4, 114-133, n=35; subcaudals 36.0+/-2.8, 28-45, n=35). The average number of ventrals + subcaudals is not sexually dimorphic (males 159.1+/-2.3, 156-163, n=17; females 159.9+/-2.6, 155-167, n=35). Males and females from eastern Henrico were not significantly different in SVL, but were different in relative tail lengths and number of ventral and subcaudals.*10760*

JUVENILES: Juveniles are darker than adults at birth, and possess a cream to yellow crossband on the back of the black head. Body color and the crossband darken with age, but may not become completely obscure. Neonates are 67-86 mm SVL (avg. = 77.9+/-6.4, n=17), 86-105 mm total length (avg. = 96.5+/-6.8), and weigh 0.40-0.42 g. (avg. = 0.41, n=means of 2 litters). Confusing Species: The species most likely to be confused with this snake is Virginia valeriae which has smooth scales and tiny black dorsal dots. It also lacks the dark pointed snout. Other potentially confusing species are Storeria dekayi, with paired, black, dorsal spots, Storeria occipitomaculata, with a red venter and middorsal stripe, Tantilla coronata, with a tan dorsum and a black crossband on the neck, and Carphophis amoenus, which is a pink on the venter and lower sides. Ring-neck snakes (Diadophis) have a distinct collar on the neck and often black spots on the venter.*10760*

GEOGRAPHIC VARIATION: The sample sizes among regions are too small to allow positive conclusions about geographic variation in Virginia.*10760*

REPRODUCTION: This species has up to 12 young which are born in August *1006*. Copulation was observed on 30 March 1982 in Virginia. The smallest mature male in VA. sample was 160 mm SVL and the smallest mature female was 178 mm SVL. Known birth dates are between 6 July and 14 August. Litter size was 5-8 (avg. = 6.3+/-0.9, n=9). Blem and Blem reported a minimum adult female SVL of 175 mm, ovulation in mid to late May, a birth date of 10 August, and litter sizes of 4-10 (avg. = 6.0+/-1.5, n=24) for a Henrico Co. population.*10760*

BEHAVIOR: This species is seldom seen because of their secretive habits. They will come out during heavy summer rains. They consume earthworms, snails ant eggs and soft-bodied insects. They have been found hibernating with masses of copperheads, ribbon snakes, lizards, frogs and toads *1006*. This snake will not bite upon capture but may emit musk from glands at the base of the tail or even feces. They are known to "play dead," becoming rigid with mouth open and tongue protruding.*10760*

AQUATIC/TERRESTRIAL ASSOCIATIONS: This species may be preyed on by mole snakes, scarlet snakes, milk snakes, raccoons, opossums, large spiders, certain beetles and toads *1006*. Also recorded as predators of this species are black racers (Coluber constrictor), mole kingsnakes (Lampropeltis calligaster rhombomaculata), and scarlet kingsnakes (Lampropeltis triangulum elapsoides) *11499,11523*.

POPULATION PARAMETERS: The maximum known longevity for this species is 7 years and 3 months *11523*.

References for Life History

  • 1006 - Linzey, D.W., M.J. Clifford, 1981, Snakes of Virginia, Univ. of Virginia Press, Charlottesville, VA


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Verified County/City Occurrence

Brunswick County
Charles City County
Chesapeake City
Chesterfield County
Gloucester County
Henrico County
James City County
Mathews County
Newport News City
Richmond City
Southampton County
Surry County
York County
Verified in 13 Counties/Cities.


Virginia is home to 28 species of frogs and toads.


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


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


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


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