Virginia Valeriae – Smooth Earth Snake

Virginia Valeriae - Smooth Earth Snake virginia valeriae elegans western smooth earth snake

The smooth earth snake, Virginia valeriae, is a small nonvenomous snake species that can be found throughout the southern and eastern parts of the United States.

Smooth Earth Snake Description

The smooth earth snake is a small, mostly brown snake with smooth scales and several small darker spots along its back. The belly has a whitish color. Depending on the subspecies, the snake can be light brownish-grey or grey (eastern smooth earth snake) or reddish-brown to brown (western smooth earth snake).

Virginia Valeriae valeria eastern Smooth Earth Snake
Virginia valeriae valeriae – The eastern (smooth) earth snake. Photo: Smithsonian

The smooth earth snake is often confused with the rough earth snake, the Dekay’s brown snake or the worm snake. All of these snakes are nonvenomous and harmless. The rough earth snake has a similar look but has strongly keeled scales while the smooth earth snake has smooth scales. If the surface of the snake is very shiny, it is more likely a smooth earth snake. The Dekay’s brown snake has more and larger black spots on its back than the smooth earth snake. The eastern wormsnake has a pink belly instead of a cream-colored or white belly.

Virginia Valeriae - Smooth Earth Snake virginia valeriae elegans western smooth earth snake
The western smooth earth snake has a browner, sometimes more reddish color than the eastern subspecies. Photo: Peter Paplanus


The smooth earth snake is a small snake. Adult specimen reach an average length of 7-10 inches (18-25 cm). The largest ever recorded Virginia valeriae was just over 13 inches long (38 cm).

Diet and Habitat

As its common name suggests, the smooth earth snake is a fossorial snake. That means that it lives mostly underground in loose soil or under loose leafs. For that reason, most sightings of the snake occur in autumn, when the ground is covered with leaves and the snake spends less time buried in the ground. Due to its size and its small head, the small earth snake can only prey on small animals. Most commonly, these are earthworms or small ground crawlers.


The small smooth earth snake is nonvenomous and does not pose any threat to humans or larger pets. Even if handled, the snake is usually heistant to bite and will more likely defecate as a defense mechanism. Its small teeth are usually not large enough to pierce through human skin.

Smooth earth snake range in the USA

The smooth earth snake can be found throughout the eastern and southern states of the U.S. from New Jersey to Texas. Populations can be found in these U.S. states: Texas, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Kansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia, Florida, South Carolina, North Carolina, Tennessee, Kentucky, Iowa, Illinois, Indiana, Missouri, Ohio, West Virginia, Virginia, Delaware, Pennsylvania, Maryland and New Jersey.

Scientific classification of Virginia valeriae

  • Kingdom: Animalia
  • Phylum: Chordata
  • Class: Reptilia
  • Order: Squamata
  • Suborder: Serpentes
  • Family: Colubridae
  • Genus: Virginia
  • Species: Virginia valeriae
Virginia Valeriae – Smooth Earth Snake

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