Facts, Identification, & Control

Latin Name

Virginia striatula


What Do They Look Like?

  • Color: Earth snakes are small, secretive snakes that are brown, gray, or reddish colored on their backs. They are cream to yellow colored bellies and have essentially no patterning. Young earth snakes have light colored bands behind their heads.
  • Size: Typical adults are 7-12 inches long.

How Did I Get Rough Earth Snakes?

Because they thrive in seclusion, these snakes often hide underground. Rough earth snakes may, however, find shelter on the surface in flowerbeds or beneath leaves, compost, fallen logs, and other debris. Yards that provide these habitats often attract rough earth snakes.

How Serious Are Rough Earth Snakes?

Rough earth snakes pose no threat to humans since they do not possess fangs. While not aggressive towards humans, they have limited defensive abilities when pressured by predators. This species may strike when threatened, but its bite generates only minor, superficial wounds. The mouths of these snakes contain bacteria, so even a bite from these relatively harmless pests may become infected. The rough earth snake is commonly killed by domestic cats and left as “trophies” on their owners’ porch, walk, or patio.

How Do I Get Rid of Rough Earth Snakes?

What You Can Do
An encounter with a rough earth snakes may be discouraged by eliminating or reducing their food supply and habitat. Since vegetation and debris are major snake attractants, some common methods of deterring snakes include:

  • Debris: Reduce piles of rocks, leaves, or other items that give snakes shelter.
  • Entry: Seal cracks and crevices in buildings and around pipes and utility connections.
  • Fencing: Child play areas can be protected from most snakes with a snake-proof fence.
  • Landscaping: Keep vegetation and landscaping beds well maintained. Shrubs and bushes make great hiding places for snakes. If you choose to have bushes or shrubs, select ones that grow higher off the ground and keep the ground under these plants free of grass and mulch.
  • Mowing: Mow closely around homes and outbuildings.
  • Wood: Store firewood and lumber away from residences.

What Wildlife Control Operators Do
Your local wildlife control operators are trained to help manage rough earth snakes and similar pests. Since every building or home is different, the wildlife control technician will design a unique program for your situation.

Technicians at Critter Control or Trutech Wildlife Service can provide the right solution to keep rough earth snakes in their place…out of your home, or business.

Behavior, Diet, & Habits

Rough earth snakes are active from March to late October, and are generally seen after it rains.

What Do They Eat?
They feed on earthworms, slugs, and soft-bodied insects. Its pointed head comes in handy and works as a “spade” as the snake searches soft soils for earthworms and insects.

Where Do They Live?
Their most common habitat is woodlands, exposed rocky hillsides, and compost piles where they usually hide in leaf litter, loose soil, and under rocks. Gardeners may encounter this species when working in vegetable and flower gardens due to the snakes’ association with compost piles.

Geographic Range
Their normal range is eastern Virginia southward to Florida, east to Texas and up through southern Missouri.

Females give birth to live young.