Opheodrys aestivus

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Opheodrys aestivus
Opheodrys aestivus - rough green snake cropped.jpg
Opheodrys aestivus, rough green snake
Scientific classification edit
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Reptilia
Order: Squamata
Suborder: Serpentes
Family: Colubridae
Genus: Opheodrys
O. aestivus
Binomial name
Opheodrys aestivus
(Linnaeus, 1766)
  • Coluber æstivus
    Linnaeus, 1766
  • Leptophis æstivus
    Bell, 1826
  • Herpetodryas æstivus
    Schlegel, 1837
  • Cyclophis æstivus
    Günther, 1858
  • Opheodrys æstivus
    Cope, 1860
  • Liopeltis æstivus
    Jan, 1863
  • Phyllophilophis æstivus
    Garman, 1892
  • Contia æstiva
    Boulenger, 1894[1]
  • Opheodrys aestivus
    Stejneger & Barbour, 1917[2]

Opheodrys aestivus, commonly known as the rough green snake, is a nonvenomous North American colubrid. It is sometimes called grass snake or green grass snake, but these names are more commonly applied to the smooth green snake (Opheodrys vernalis). The European colubrid called grass snake (Natrix natrix) is unrelated. The rough green snake is docile, often allowing close approach by humans, and seldom bites. Even when bites occur, they have no venom and are harmless.


O. aestivus, rough green snake

The rough green snake (Opheodrys aestivus) is bright green above and has a yellowish belly, affording it excellent camouflage in green vegetation and making them difficult to see in the wild even though they are relatively common in their habitat. It has keeled dorsal scales, which are arranged in 17 rows at mid-body. It grows up to 116 cm (45 34 in) in total length (including tail)[3] and is very thin.

Geographic range[edit]

The rough green snake ranges throughout the Southeastern United States, from Florida, north to coastal Maine, Indiana, and west to Central Texas. The snake is commonly found in the Piedmont and Atlantic coastal plain, but is not found in the higher elevations of the Appalachian Mountains. It is also found in northeastern Mexico, including the state of Tamaulipas and eastern Nuevo León.

Habitat and behavior[edit]

The preferred habitat of O. aestivus is moist meadows and woodlands, often near water. It is highly arboreal, frequently found climbing in low vegetation, and is also a good swimmer. However, it is often found on the ground as well. Unlike many snakes, it is largely diurnal.


The diet of O. aestivus consists mostly of insects and other terrestrial arthropods, but some snails and tree frogs are eaten as well. This snake is not a constrictor; most prey are grabbed and simply swallowed alive.

O. aestivus, rough green snake, spotted in St. Tammany Parish, Louisiana caught in the web of a Golden silk orb-weaver


Predators of the rough green snake include birds and other snakes, such as the eastern racer (Coluber constrictor) and the eastern king snake (Lampropeltis getula).


The rough green snake breeds in spring, and sometimes again in fall. Females lay 2-14 eggs, occasionally in a communal nest shared by more than one female. Up to 75 eggs have been found in one such nest. The nest site varies: under boards, under bark in rotting stumps, in deep mulch, or under a rock. Hatchlings from spring breeding typically emerge in August or September, and each is about 18–20 cm (7.1–7.9 in) in total length.

Conservation status[edit]

The rough green snake is widespread and is not of conservation concern, in general. However, urban development, especially the reduction of vegetation near waterways, may reduce their numbers. Many are killed on roads, and they may be susceptible to poisoning by pesticides used on their insect prey. When dead, they turn blue. It is also one of the most exploited pet snakes in North America. O. aestivus are collected by the hundreds each year and wholesale for around eight dollars in U.S. currency making it a very accessible species to pet shops and later to the pet owner.[citation needed]


  • Opheodrys aestivus aestivus (Linnaeus, 1766) – northern rough green snake
  • Opheodrys aestivus carinatus Grobman, 1984 – Florida rough green snake
O. aestivus climbing over vegetation


  1. ^ Boulenger, G.A. (1894). Catalogue of the Snakes in the British Museum (Natural History), Volume II., Containing the Conclusion of the Colubridæ Aglyphæ. London: Trustees of the British Museum (Natural History). (Taylor and Francis, printers). xi + 382 pp. + Plates I-XX. (Contia æstiva, p. 258.)
  2. ^ Stejneger, L., & T. Barbour (1917). A Check List of North American Amphibians and Reptiles. Cambridge, Massachusetts: Harvard University Press. 125 pp. (Opheodrys aestivus, p. 78.)
  3. ^ Smith, H.M., and E.D. Brodie Jr. (1982). Reptiles of North America: A Guide to Field Identification. New York: Golden Press. 240 pp. ISBN 0-307-13666-3. (Opheodrys aestivus, pp. 188-189.)

External links and further reading[edit]

  • Aardema et al. Amphibians and Reptiles of North Carolina—accessed 29 May 2006
  • Conant, Roger et al. (1998). A Field Guide to Reptiles and Amphibians of Eastern and Central North America. Third Edition. Boston: Houghton Mifflin. ISBN 0-395-90452-8.
  • Cook, Will. Carolina Nature—accessed 29 May 2006.
  • Gibbons, Whit, Michael E. Dorcas (2005). Snakes Of The Southeast. Athens, Georgia: University of Georgia Press. ISBN 0-8203-2652-6.
  • Linnaeus, C. (1766). Systema naturæ per regna tria naturæ, secundum classes, ordines, genera, species, cum characteribus, diferentiis, synonymis, locis. Tomus I. Editio Duodecima, Reformata [Twelfth Edition, Revised]. Stockholm: L. Salvius. 532 pp. (Coluber æstivus, new species, p. 387.) (in Latin.)
  • Martof et al. (1980). Amphibians and Reptiles of the Carolinas and Virginia. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press. ISBN 0-8078-4252-4.
  • Myers, P., R. Espinosa, C.S. Parr, T. Jones, G.S. Hammond, and T.A. Dewey (2006). Animal Diversity Web. Accessed May 29, 2006.
  • Palmer, William M., Alvin L. Braswell, Renaldo Kuhler (1995). Reptiles of North Carolina. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press. ISBN 0-8078-2158-6.
  • Powell, Robert, Roger Conant, Joseph T. Collins (2016). Peterson Field Guide to Reptiles and Amphibians of Eastern and Central North America, Fourth Edition. Boston and New York: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. xiv + 494 pp., 47 plates, 207 figures. ISBN 978-0-544-12997-9. (Opheodrys aestivus, p. 382 + Plate 35).
  • Schmidt, K.P., and D.D. Davis (1941). Field Book of Snakes of the United States and Canada. New York: G.P. Putnam's Sons. 365 pp. (Opheodrys aestivus, pp. 118–120, Figure 27. + p. 332, Plate 12.)
  • University of Georgia, Savannah River Ecological Laboratory, Animal Fact Sheets—accessed 1 June 2006
  • University of Georgia, Savannah River Ecological Laboratory, Reptiles and Amphibians of South Carolina and Georgia—accessed 1 June 2006
  • Wright, A.H., and A.A. Wright (1957). Handbook of Snakes of the United States and Canada. Ithaca and London: Comstock. 1105 pp. (in 2 volumes) (Opheodrys aestivus, pp. 551–555, Map 43., Figure 164.)