Opheodrys aestivus

Opheodrys aestivus (Linnaeus, 1766)

Common Names

Culebra-verde rugosa (Castilian), Rough green snake (English), Rough greensnake (English)

Languages: English

Overview

Comprehensive Description

The Rough Green Snake (Opheodrys aestivus) is a slender, green, semi-arboreal snake of the southeastern United States and northeastern Mexico (Behler and King 1979; Conant and Collins 1991).

Author(s): Shapiro, Leo
Rights holder(s): Shapiro, Leo

Description

Behaviour

The Rough Green Snake is an excellent climber, often foraging amid vines and shrubs, its green body blending in with the surrounding vegetation (Conant and Collins 1991).  It is active during the day (Behler and King 1979).

Author(s): Shapiro, Leo
Rights holder(s): Shapiro, Leo

Lookalikes

In the United States, the distribution of the Rough Green Snake is largely non-overlapping with the distinctly more northern distribution of the very similar Smooth Green Snake (Opheodrys vernalis). The Rough Green Snake is more slender, grows to a much greater length, and has keeled scales (Smooth Green Snake scales are smooth, as are those of the greenish Mexican Racer, Coluber constrictor oaxaca). In terms of habit, the Rough Green Snake is more arboreal and the Smooth Green Snake more terrestrial. (Conant and Collins 1991).

Author(s): Shapiro, Leo
Rights holder(s): Shapiro, Leo

Morphology

The Rough Green Snake is 56 to 81 cm long (record 116 cm). It is a slender snake, plain light green above and plain white, yellow, or pale greenish below. (After death, the bright green coloration quickly fades to blue, a point to keep in mind if encountering a dull blue road-killed snake.) The scales (in 17 rows, Behler and King 1979) are keeled and the anal plate is divided. Young are grayish green and 17 to 23 cm long at hatching. (Conant and Collins 1991)

Author(s): Shapiro, Leo
Rights holder(s): Shapiro, Leo

Ecology

Habitat

The Rough Green Snake is sometimes almost semi-aquatic, often occuring in the dense overgrowth along streams or lakes and freely entering shallow water (Conant and Collins 1991). It may be found from sea level to 1,500 m (Behler and King 1979).

Author(s): Shapiro, Leo
Rights holder(s): Shapiro, Leo

Distribution

The Rough Green Snake is found from southern New Jersey to the Florida Keys; west to southeastern Kansas and Texas; and south in Mexico to Tampico, with an isolated population in Coahuila (Conant and Collins 1991).

Author(s): Shapiro, Leo
Rights holder(s): Shapiro, Leo

Trophic Strategy

The bulk of the Rough Green Snake's diet consists of crickets, grasshoppers, caterpillars, and spiders (Conant and Collins 1991).

Author(s): Shapiro, Leo
Rights holder(s): Shapiro, Leo

Reproduction

Rough Green Snake mating occurs in spring and fall. The female lays 3 to 12 smooth, rather hard, capsule-shaped eggs, 28 mm long. Young hatch in 5 to 12 weeks and mature in 1 to 2 years. (Behler and King 1979)

Author(s): Shapiro, Leo
Rights holder(s): Shapiro, Leo

Taxonomy

  • Coluber Aestivus Linnaeus, 1766 (synonym)

References

Behler, J. L., & King F. W. (1979).  The Audubon Society Field Guide to North American Reptiles and Amphibians. New York: Alfred A. Knopf.
Conant, R., & Collins J. T. (1991).  A Field Guide to Reptiles and Amphibians of Eastern and Central North America, 3rd edition. Boston: Houghton .