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What is a Smooth Green Snake?

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  • Written By: Jodee Redmond
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 06 October 2018
  • Copyright Protected:
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The smooth green snake, also known as Opheodrys vernalis, is a non-venomous snake that is native to most of the northern regions of the United States. It can also be found in Ontario and Eastern Canada. In some areas, this species of reptile is known as a grass snake.

This serpent is bright green in color and can measure between 12-22 inches (30-55 cm) in length. The body of the snake is thin, giving way to a long, tapered tail. The belly is either yellowish in color or has a creamy tone. The scales are smooth, giving this species its name. The snake's green scales serve as an effective camouflage to keep it safe from predators.

Grass snakes can live in a number of habitats, including grassy areas, swamps and forests. These snakes have also been spotted in gardens, vacant lots and on abandoned farmland; at times, these snakes will enter the water. They are most active during daytime hours and most of their activities during this time involve looking for food. The smooth green snake feeds on insects, including caterpillars, spiders, crickets and grasshoppers. Although they are capable of climbing, this species prefers to spend its time close to the ground.

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During the winter months, grass snakes hibernate. A large number of serpents may share space in crevices or burrows. The smooth green snake may even spend the winter with other non-venomous species, such as garter or red belly snakes. When the warm weather returns, it signals the start of breeding season for the smooth green snake. The female will lay between 3-15 eggs. Sometimes, more than one female will share the same nesting area waiting for their eggs to hatch.

The incubation period varies, and can range from a few days up to a month. The female of this species can retain the unhatched eggs in her body for a time, and may only lay the eggs shortly before they are due to hatch. When the young do hatch, they measure between 4-5 inches (10-12 cm). They are darker in color than the adults, with grey or olive-colored scales.

The smooth green snake is not considered overly aggressive, and rarely bite. If they are picked up, these snakes may go limp and play dead as a defense mechanism. Once the snake is placed on the ground, it will quickly slither away to safety.

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