Monday, May 9, 2011

Green Snake

White Flowering Dogwood numbers dropped to almost nothing 20 years ago when disease swept through Blue Jay Barrens. Those that remained were granted immunity from cutting during my management activities and new trees began to gradually emerge. Each year shows an increase of blooms. I like to go around the field edges and give each dogwood a personal visit, just so I can keep up on their progress. Sometimes I find a little something extra in the boughs of the tree.

I’ve been trained to notice differences and when I’m in the field, I look for irregularities in line, shape, pattern and color. In this case, I quickly picked out the horizontal green lines in a space where lines were primarily vertical and brown. The result was a pleasant encounter with this pair of Rough Green Snakes.

I don’t run across these snakes nearly enough. This species is quite arboreal and is most likely to be found in the branches of a tree. I’m assuming that these are a female and male beginning whatever mating rituals are customary for Green Snakes. The eggs are typically laid in tree cavities and a clutch may contain eggs from several different females. I once saw a clutch of eggs in a hanging planter basket and suspect that old squirrel nests or other masses of vegetation caught in a tree might also make a suitable clutch site.

Even people who don’t like snakes should be able to warm up to these guys. The bright green coloration makes them look more like a child’s toy than a real snake. The maximum length is around 2.5 feet and these two were close to that limit. Each displayed some old scars picked up during their long lives.

The Rough Green Snake has raised keels that run down the center of the scales. This gives the snake a slightly rough feel. The Smooth Green Snake, found farther north in Ohio, lacks these keels.

Since I didn’t want to interrupt the mating activities, I purposely kept my distance from the snakes. The female had sensed my presence as soon as I stepped beneath the tree. She eventually tired of my attention and headed for a more elevated perch.

I left the two in peace, hoping that they would continue what they had begun. It would really be something to find some baby Green Snakes around here later on.


  1. Great eye Steve. I've found smooth greens in the boggy areas of northeastern Ohio, but I've never had the fortune to encounter a rough green. A presenter last year at the Ohio reptile conference gave a great talk detailing his research of the species in the south. He explained that the best way to find these snakes is at night by shining a flashlight into the trees that they live in- the snakes reflect the light really well and are easy to spot.


  2. Thanks for the tip, Tom. I'll give it a try, but I'd better wait until turkey season is over, so people don't think I'm trying to spotlight turkey roosts.

  3. Cool post, Steve..and great eye. I'd love to stumble across two Green Snakes!! They are among my favorite snakes.

  4. Thanks, Kelly. I don't find them nearly enough. I've seen newly hatched Green Snakes before and they're about the cutest thing you can imagine.

  5. Hi, Kelly. They're also one of my favorites and I don't get to see them nearly enough. I once saw some baby green snakes and they were about the cutest thing I'd ever seen.