Amphibians

Reptiles

Northern Rough Greensnake (Opheodrys aestivus aestivus)

Description

This small, wiry species has a solid dark green dorsal coloration. The scales are keeled, giving the species a "rough" texture. The belly may be greenish-yellow or cream. The tail is proportionally quite long and prehensile. Regardless of the overall length, this species is never much bigger around than a pencil.

This species is also known as a Grass Snake.


Habitats

This mostly arboreal species can be found in a variety of habitats, but seems to prefer areas with plenty of thick brush. This is especially true for lowland areas around water. In fact, one technique for finding the species is to shine a flashlight into tree limbs overhanging sources of water at night. The shiny belly scales of the snake reflect back the light and make them easier to see. Overgrown fence rows that run alongside roads also makes for good habitat.


Habits and Life History

This species spends a large portion of its time off the ground in brush or short trees. About 2-5 feet off the ground seems to be the preferred height. They are active during the day.

This species emerges from hibernation in the early spring. This is a vulnerable time for this species. The scenery has not yet "greened up" to put the snake's coloration to effect. Also, they seem to like basking on roads in the early morning. Many become road kill.

Breeding takes place in the spring. Females will lay their eggs later in the summer inside of hollow trees. Hatching takes place in the fall.


Prey and Hunting Techniques

This species is a true insectivore (the only AR snake species that is). It preys exclusively on insects and spiders, with a preference toward the latter.

Prey is actively pursued. As this species approaches a potential prey item it usually sways back and forth. This actually disguises its approach as the movement replicates vegetation swaying in the wind. Prey is grabbed and may be shaken vigorously until it subdues. This species will sometimes walk its jaws around so that the prey goes down head-first, but other times swallows it in whatever direction it was originally grasped.


Temperament and Defense

This species will tolerate handling, but seems uncomfortable. It may attempt to flop out of a handler's hands onto the ground. One technique that I have found successful in keeping the species calm while handling is to place it on a branching twig and then to hold the twig.

Just about the only defense this species has is its excellent camouflage. It is two-toned to blend in with its leafy surroundings from both above and below! It never bites and only rarely defecates in defense.


Conservation

This species currently has no special protections in Arkansas.


State Distribution and Abundance

This species is found statewide. Even considering its cryptic coloration and small size, it seems abundant.

Gallery

Rough Green Snake Rough Green Snake Hanging From A Tree Friends Northern Rough Greensnake, Juvenile Northern Rough Greensnake, Juvenile Northern Rough Greensnake, Juvenile Northern Rough Greensnake, Juvenile Northern Rough Greensnake, Juvenile Northern Rough Greensnake, Juvenile Northern Rough Greensnake, Juvenile Northern Rough Greensnake, Juvenile Northern Rough Greensnake, Juvenile Northern Rough Greensnake, Juvenile Northern Rough Greensnake, Juvenile Northern Rough Greensnake, Juvenile Northern Rough Greensnake Rough Green Snake Northern Rough Greensnake, DOR Northern Rough Greensnake Green Snake along Lake Fayetteville Trail - Fayetteville, Arkansas Green Snake along Lake Fayetteville Trail - Fayetteville, Arkansas Rough Green Snake Rough Green Snake Closeup How did I miss that? Northern Rough Greensnake Northern Rough Greensnake Northern Rough Greensnake Rough green snake Northern Rough Greensnake In-situ Northern Rough Greensnake Northern Rough Greensnake Northern Rough Greensnake Rough Greensnake Rough Greensnake Rough Green Snake Rough Green Snake Rough Green Snake Rough Green Snake Rough Green Snake Rough Green Snake Rough Green Snake Rough Green Snake Rough Green Snake Rough Green Snake Rough Green Snake Rough Green Snake Rough Green Snake 2008 AHS Spring Field Trip - Rough Green Snake Rough Green Snake Rough Green Snake Rough Green Snake Rough Green Snake Rough Green Snake Rough Green Snake Rough Green Snake Rough Green Snake Rough Green Snake Rough Green Snake Rough Green Snake Rough Green Snake Rough Green Snake Rough Green Snake Rough Green Snake Rough Green Snake Rough Green Snake Rough Green Snake Rough Green Snake Rough Green Snake Rough Green Snake Rough Green Snake Rough Green Snake Rough Green Snake Rough Green Snake Rough Green Snake Rough Green Snake Rough Green Snake Rough Green Snake Rough Green Snake

Contributors

  • kaptainkory March 22, 2006, at 01:57 PM (Original Contributor)

Bibliography

  • Behler, J. L., and F. W. King. 1979 (1987). The Audubon Society Field Guide to North American Reptiles and Amphibians. 3rd ed. Alfred A. Knopf, New York. 743 pp.
  • Conant, R., and J. T. Collins. 1998. A Field Guide to Reptiles and Amphibians of Eastern and Central North America. 3rd ed., Expanded. Houghton Mifflin Co., Boston. 616 pp.
  • Irwin, K. J. 2004. Arkansas Snake Guide. Arkansas Game and Fish Commission Pocket Guide. 50 pp.
  • Trauth, S. E., H. W. Robison, and M. V. Plummer. 2004. Amphibians and Reptiles of Arkansas. University of Arkansas Press, Fayetteville. 421 pp.

Discussion

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Page last modified on January 21, 2012, at 08:52 PM