Carphophis Amoenus – Worm Snake

Carphophis Amoenus - Worm Snake information

The worm snake, Carphophis amoenus, is a small nonvenomous snake species that can be found throughout the Eastern United States. It is up to 11 inches long and has a brown color with a pink belly.

Worm Snake Description

The main body coloration of the wormsnake is a uniform tan or dark brown without any patterns. The colors between the brown back and the pink belly form a strong contrast. One of the most characteristic features of the wormsnake is the iredescent sheen of its back. Juvenile snakes are always much darker, often a dark grey and they will chance to a lighter color once they mature.

They snout is of the wormsnake is pointed to help the snake dig through the soil. Its tail is also pointed, almost like a spine.

Eastern Worm Snake brown and pink snake small
An eastern wormsnake with its characteristic spiky tail and the strong contrast between back and belly. Photo: Smithsonian

The iredescent scales and the spine-like tail are the best indicators to tell the wormsnake apart from similar looking snakes. These are the smooth earthsnake and the rough earthsnake as well as the ring-necked snake. Their range overlaps with the closely-related and similar-looking western worm snake in Missouri, Arkansas and Louisiana. The western worm snake usually comes in darker colors with an almsot black body and a deep pink or even red belly.


The wormsnake is a small snake. Adults reach a length of 7-11 inches (18-28 cm). The largest ever recorded specimen was 13 inches (34 cm) long. Females are larger than males and have a shorter tail.

Diet and Habitat

The wormsnake lives a worm-like live and spends almost its entire life underground. It is therefore rarely seen in the open. Most sightings occur after rainy weather. The wormsnake feeds almost exclusively on earthworms. It can only be found in moist forest soil, usually on the forest edge. Sometimes, it can be found above ground in humid areas under rocks or rotten logs or tree stumps where it feeds on earthworms.

Eastern Worm Snake - Carphophis amoenus amoenus found in Virginia
An eastern wormsnake in moist soil. Photo: Judy Gallagher


The wormsnake is nonvenomous and does not have teeth large enough to cause any significant harm to humans or larger pets. Even if handled, the snake does not bite.

Wormsnake range in the USA

The wormsnake can be found throughout the Eastern United States from Connecticut to Louisiana and the easternmost parts of Missouri. It can be found in the following U.S. States: New York, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Connecticut, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Virginia, West Virginia, Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Missouri, Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina, Tennessee and Kentucky.

Scientific classification of Carphophis amoenus

  • Kingdom: Animalia
  • Phylum: Chordata
  • Class: Reptilia
  • Order: Squamata
  • Suborder: Serpentes
  • Family: Colubridae
  • Genus: Carphophis
  • Species: Carphophis amoenus

Two subspecies of the worm snake are currently recognized:

  • Carphophis amoenus amoenus – eastern worm snake
  • Carphophis amoenus helenae – midwestern worm snake
Carphophis Amoenus – Worm Snake

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