Rough Green Snake

Opheodrys aestivus aestivus

Quick Facts

  • Species

    Native

  • Habitat

    The rough green snake lives among leafy trees, shrubs and vines, often near water. It prefers lush, thickly vegetated areas, including moist woods, streamside forests and backyard gardens. Unlike most species of snakes, rough green snakes are diurnal, meaning they are most active during the day. They hibernate during the cold winter months.

  • Range

    The rough green snake is primarily found throughout Maryland and Virginia’s coastal plain, though they may range farther inland.

  • Diet

    Insects, snails, spiders and small frogs

  • Lifespan

    Up to 8 years

  • Status

    Stable

The rough green snake is a non-venomous snake with a long, slender, bright green body. It lives in leafy trees and shrubs in thickly vegetated areas throughout the Chesapeake Bay region.

Appearance

The rough green snake grows to 22 to 32 inches in length. It has a long, slender, bright green body covered with rough-looking scales and a white, cream or yellow belly.

Feeding

Rough green snakes feed primarily on insects such as crickets, caterpillars and grasshoppers, though they will also eat snails, spiders and small frogs. They use their excellent vision to find and track down prey. When rough green snakes are within striking range of their prey, they assume spring-like curves with their body. They then straighten out their entire body at once, allowing the snake to propel its head toward the prey.

Predators

Birds, larger snakes, domestic cats and even some large spiders prey upon rough green snakes. They do not bite and are relatively defenseless. However, they are well camouflaged in dense vegetation, where they hide from predators.

Reproduction and Life Cycle

Male rough green snakes court females using a variety of motor patterns, including chin rubbing, tail waving and head jerking. They usually leave the female immediately after breeding occurs. Females reach sexual maturity at 21 to 33 months. They lay two to 12 eggs in June or July, typically in a moist location such as in a tree hollow or under a rock. Several females will often share a nest. Eggs hatch in August and September, yielding baby snakes that are seven to eight inches long. These snakes have been known to live up to eight years in captivity.

Did You Know?

  • This snake gets its name from the rough-looking scales that cover its green body.
  • It is the only tree-dwelling snake in the Bay region.
  • Rough green snakes are docile and do not bite.
  • Although rough green snakes usually live in trees, they are also very good swimmers.

Sources and Additional Information

Quick Facts

  • Species

    Native

  • Habitat

    The rough green snake lives among leafy trees, shrubs and vines, often near water. It prefers lush, thickly vegetated areas, including moist woods, streamside forests and backyard gardens. Unlike most species of snakes, rough green snakes are diurnal, meaning they are most active during the day. They hibernate during the cold winter months.

  • Range

    The rough green snake is primarily found throughout Maryland and Virginia’s coastal plain, though they may range farther inland.

  • Diet

    Insects, snails, spiders and small frogs

  • Lifespan

    Up to 8 years

  • Status

    Stable