Discover Maryland's Herps

Field Guide to Maryland's Snakes (Order Squamata)

Sub-order Serpentes, Family Colubridae

Mountain Earthsnake
Virginia valeriae pulchra

Mountain Earthsnake Adult Photo by Don Forester
Photo of Adult Mountain Earthsnake courtesy of Don Forester


7 inches – 13 inches


  • Color variable but may be reddish-brown to brown to gray.

  • May have 2 rows of small black dots running the length of the body.

  • The belly is white to yellowish and may have a pink border.

  • The scales are weakly keeled, unlike those of the smooth earthsnake.

  • Photo of Habitat for
    Mountain Earthsnake
    courtesy of Matt Sell


    Prefers rich wooded areas with water nearby and loose, often sandy, soil. Grassy slopes with rock cover also used.

    How to Find

    This is a very secretive animal, preferring to stay underground. The best time to find one is after rainstorms. May hide under rocks and rotted logs. Usually docile; will play dead and exude musk when cornered. Non-venomous.

    Distribution in Maryland

    Found only in western Garrett County. This snake is listed as state Endangered. If you find one, please contact the MD DNR Wildlife and Heritage Service.

    Maryland Distribution map for Mountain Earthsnake

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    and Reptile Atlas Project

    "A Joint Project of the Natural History Society of Maryland, Inc. and the Maryland Department of Natural Resources"

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    The Maryland Herpetology Field Guide is a cooperative effort of the MD Natural Heritage Program and the MD Biological Stream Survey within the Department of Natural Resources and their partners. We wish to thank all who contributed field records, text, and photographs, as well as support throughout its development.