Carphophis Vermis – Western Worm Snake

Carphophis Vermis - Western Worm Snake information and overview

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.

Western Worm Snake Description

The body of the western worm snake is uniformely dark. It can be either black, purple of very dark brown and doesn’t have any patterns. The belly is pink, dark orange or red and there is a strong contrast between the colors of the back and the belly. The scales have an iridescent sheen.

Carphophis Vermis - Western Worm Snake information
The dark colors, the ididescent sheen and the points tail tip are the most distinctive features of the western worm snake. Photo: Peter Paplanus

Its close relative, the worm snake (Carphophis amoenus) has a very similar appearance but usually comes in lighter colors.

The snake has a spine-like tail. Its tail is the best indicator to tell the western wormsnake apart from similar looking snakes like the smooth earthsnake, the rough earthsnake as well as the ring-necked snake.


The western wormsnake is a small snake. Adults reach an average length of 7-11 inches (18-28 cm). The largest ever recorded specimen was 14.8 inches (38 cm) long. Females are larger than males and have a shorter tail.

Diet and Habitat

The western wormsnake spends the majority of its live underground and is only seen out in the open after heavy rains. It feeds almost exclusively on earthworms as well as the occasional insect. The snake inhabits moist habitats with loose soil and an abundance of earthworms.

Carphophis Vermis - Western Worm Snake in Missouri black snake with red belly
A western worm snake found in Missouri. Photo: Peter Paplanus


The western wormsnake is a non-venomous snake 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. As a defensive mechanism, the snake might try to press its tail tip into the attacker (which is harmless for humans) and release a foul-smelling musk from its cloaca.

Westerm wormsnake range in the USA

The western wormsnake can be found in the Central United States in Northeastern Texas, Eastern Oklahoma, Louisiana, Missouri, Western Illinois, Eastern Kansas, Southeastern Nebraska and Southern Iowa. Isolated populations can be found in Southwestern Wisconsin, Southeastern Arkansas and Central Tennessee.

Scientific classification of Carphophis vermis

  • Kingdom: Animalia
  • Phylum: Chordata
  • Class: Reptilia
  • Order: Squamata
  • Suborder: Serpentes
  • Family: Colubridae
  • Genus: Carphophis
  • Species: Carphophis vermis
Carphophis Vermis – Western Worm Snake

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

The maximum upload file size: 15 MB. You can upload: image. Drop file here

Scroll to top