Published on May 16, 2020

Green Snake Background Images

License Info: Creative Commons 4.0 BY-NC

The smooth green snake (Opheodrys vernalis) is a species of North American nonvenomous snake in the family Colubridae. The species is also referred to as the grass snake. It is a slender, “small medium” snake that measures 36–51 cm (14–20 in) as an adult. It gets its common name from its smooth dorsal scales, as opposed to the rough green snake, which has keeled dorsal scales. The smooth green snake is found in marshes, meadows open woods, and along stream edges and is native to regions of Canada, the United States, and northern Mexico. A non-aggressive snake, it seldom bites and usually flees when threatened. It mates in late spring to summer, and females lay their eggs from June to September.

The smooth green snake is slender. In size, it is classified as a “small medium” snake, reaching to 36–51 cm (14–20 in) in total length (including tail) as an adult. The longest smooth green snake was measured as being 66 cm (26 in) in total length. The tail makes up about 1/4 to 1/2 the total length of the snake; males have longer tails than females.

It is uniform light green on its back, with a yellow or white belly, and has smooth dorsal scales, unlike those of the rough green snake, which are keeled. Its smooth dorsal scales are arranged in 15 rows at midbody.


At birth, its dorsal coloration is different than when it matures. At first, it can be olive green, blue-gray, or even brown, but after it sheds its skin for the first time, it becomes the characteristic bright green. The dorsal coloration can also vary depending on location: bluish in Kansas, olive-tinted light brown in southeastern Texas, and bronze in northern Wisconsin.

The smooth green snake is only native to the Nearctic region. The range spreads through southeastern Canada, west to Saskatchewan, and south through Illinois and Virginia. It can also be found in other areas, such as Wyoming, New Mexico, Iowa, Missouri, Colorado, Kansas, Texas, Mississippi, and northern Mexico.

The smooth green snake population is also declining due to the use of pesticides, as well as destruction of habitats. Pesticides are particularly harmful to the snake when used in riparian areas, mountain foothills and meadows. Because the smooth green snake’s diet consists mainly of insects, insecticides put the snake at great risk in areas where they are applied. The reduction of its prey is a major cause of the death of the snakes, as well as one of the most important natural threats to its population.

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