Smooth Greensnake Opheodrys vernalis - Endangered

Adult from Lake County

Identification

This distinctively beautiful snake is bright green with glossy smooth scales and a whitish underbelly. Adults are relatively small, rarely exceeding two feet (60 cm) in length.

Subadult from Lake County
Juvenile from Northern Illinois

Like its southern counterpart, the Rought Greensnake the bright green color of this snake is unique. While Rough Greensnakes are found throughout much of southern Indiana, this species is restricted to the northwestern corner of the state.

Ecology and Conservation

The Smooth Greensnake dwells in wet prairies and is now restricted to the prairie remnants in the northwest counties. Similar to the Rough Greensnake, its diet consists almost entirely of insects and spiders. This snake is listed as an endangered species because it has lost most of its natural prairie habitat and is subjected to the direct and indirect toxic effects of insecticides from the prey it ingests. They are listed as endangered in Indiana.

Wet prairie from Lake County
Shrubby meadow from Lake County

Distribution

Smooth Greensnakes are found in northwestern Indiana, where they inhabit remnant prairie and oak savanna habitat. Given that these habitats have been much reduced by human encroachment, Smooth Greensnakes are now rare in the state and occur in the few remaining prairie patches, along railroad right of ways, and in old fields and abandoned lots.

Taxonomy

Until relatively recently, the Smooth Greensnake was recognized by some to be in the monotypic genus Liochlorophis. There are no recognized subspecies of the Smooth Greensnake. These snakes are members of the family Colubridae, which is represented by a total of 28 species in Indiana.

Literature Cited

Conant, R. and J. T . Collins. 1998. Reptiles and Amphibians of Eastern and Central North America. Third Edition, Expanded. Houghton Mifflin, New York, NY.

Minton, S. A. Jr. 2001. Amphibians and Reptiles of Indiana. Indiana Academy of Science, Indianapolis, IN.

Distribution Map
Distribution map of Smooth Greensnake (Opheodrys vernalis)
Photographs