Discover Maryland's Herps

Field Guide to Maryland's Snakes (Order Squamata)

Sub-order Serpentes, Family Colubridae

Smooth Greensnake
Opheodrys vernalis

Photo of Smooth Greensnake courtesy of Matt Sell
Photo of Smooth Greensnake courtesy of Matt Sell

Size

14 inches - 20 inches. Record: 26 inches.

Appearance

  • Like its close cousin the northern rough greensnake, the smooth greensnake is long and slender, vibrant green above and yellow to whitish below.

  • The smooth greensnake, however, does not have keeled upper scales, giving it its distinctive smooth appearance.

  • Newborns start out a darker olive green but get brighter as they age.

  • After death, the color fades to blue.

  • Photo of Smooth Greensnake courtesy of John White
    Photo of Smooth Greensnake courtesy of John White

    Habitats

    Prefers open areas like fields, meadows, marshes, stream edges, open woodlands and hillsides at higher elevations.

    How to Find

    Usually found on the ground in the open but also may hide under rocks and logs. In the spring, as these creatures emerge from hibernation, look around anthills or other animals' burrows. Non-venomous.

    Photo of Habitat for Smooth Greensnake courtesy of Rebecca Chalmers
    Photo of Habitat for Smooth Greensnake
    courtesy of Rebecca Chalmers

    Distribution in Maryland

    Found in western Maryland, from Frederick County to Garrett County.

    Maryland Distribution Map for Smooth Greensnake

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    Maryland Amphibian
    and Reptile Atlas Project

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

    For monthly newsletters of the Maryland Amphibian & Reptile Atlas Project click on Recent Newsletters and scroll down to the MARA Newsletters.

    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.