An adult Rough Earthsnake from Crawford County, Kansas (iNat: 54271318). Image by Andrew George (@adgeorge).
An group of three adult Rough Earthsnakes from Chautauqua County, Kansas (iNat: 43675455). Image by Hannah Hoetmer (@hootymer).
An adult Rough Earthsnake from Cherokee County. Image © Suzanne L. Collins, CNAH.
An adult Rough Earthsnake from Labette County. Image © Brock Byrd.
REPTILIA (Reptiles) SQUAMATA (PART) (Snakes) NATRICIDAE (Harmless Egg-Retaining Snakes)

Rough Earthsnake
Haldea striatula (Linnaeus 1766)
hăl-dē-ă — strī-ăh-tū-lă


Conservation Status:

State: Kansas Species in Need of Conservation (SINC)

Federal: None
NatureServe State: S2 - Imperiled
NatureServe National: N5 - Secure
NatureServe Global: G5 - Secure
CITES: None
Diagnosis:
HARMLESS. The Rough Earthsnake is characterized by weakly keeled scales restricted to the middle of the back and over the rear upper portion of the body, smooth scales along the front sides of the body, a uniform gray or brown head, body, and tail, a divided anal scale, five scales on each upper lip, and a single scale directly behind each eye. The belly is white or grayish. Newborns may have a yellow area on the middle of the head just behind the eyes. Adult males have longer tails than females, but females attain a greater total length.
Adults normally attain 18.0-25.4 cm (7-10 inches) in total length. The largest specimen from Kansas is a female (KU 192191) from Cherokee County with a total length of 29.0 cm (11­3⁄8 inches) collected by Kelly J. Irwin, Larry Miller, and Joseph T. Collins on 10 April 1982. The maximum length throughout the range is 32.1 cm (12­5⁄8 inches) (Conant and Collins, 1998).

Distribution:
This species is known in Kansas from the extreme southern Cross Timbers, Ozark Plateau, and isolated populations in Crawford and Labette counties on the Cherokee Plain. This species may ultimately be discovered in isolated populations along the entire length of the eastern Kansas border south of the Kansas River.
(,   Museum Voucher) (,   Observation) (,   Literature Record) (,   iNat Record), (  Fossil)
Open icons are questionable records; Click on a marker to view details.
Full range depicted by light shaded red area. Export Google Earth (.kml)
  • Occurrence Summary:  
  • 127
    Records 
  • 100
    Museum Vouchers 
  • 27
    Other Observations 
Some county occurrences indicated below may be too imprecise to map above.
County Breakdown: County Name (# occurrences):
Chautauqua (70); Cherokee (37); Crawford (11); Elk (1); Labette (2); Leavenworth (5); Montgomery (1);

Fossil History:
Not known from Kansas.

Natural History:
This species inhabits the rocky hillsides of dry open woodland and woodland edge. Breukelman (1940) found specimens beneath flat rocks near the tops of hillsides in Cherokee County. Fleharty and Johnson (1975) recorded three adults and two juveniles found beneath sandstone slabs on a south-facing hillside in Chautauqua County during April. Collins (1982) found numerous specimens beneath discarded asphalt slabs scattered over a grassy area in Cherokee County on 10 April. The Rough Earthsnake is active from March to October and probably is nocturnal. It spends the day beneath rocks and logs or in leaf litter. During winter, it burrows deep beneath the ground to avoid cold temperatures.
The Rough Earthsnake mates during April and May after emergence from winter inactivity. Courtship is unknown in Kansas. Females give birth to young anytime from July to September. Number of young per litter varies from two to nine (Fitch, 1985), with an average of five.
Although this snake prefers a diet of earthworms, it also eats slugs and snails.

Occurrence Activity:
Number of Unique Obervations (=days): 31; Range: 27 Mar to 26 Oct
Remarks:
Records from western Missouri and northeastern Oklahoma indicate that this species may ultimately be discovered along the entire length of the eastern Kansas border.
The Rough Earthsnake is known from a small number of unique localities making it susceptible to the impacts of environmental degradation. While this taxon does have a limited range in Kansas, its small size and secretive nature generally preclude its discovery. The populations in Kansas have probably changed very little over the past 50 years.
Platt et al. (1974) recommended close scrutiny of lumbering operations, restriction of large scale lumbering, and discontinued use of persistent pesticides where this reptile is found in Kansas. The Rough Earthsnake was listed as a Kansas SINC species in 1987.
Based on a captive specimen, Snider and Bowler (1992) reported a maximum longevity for the Rough Earth Snake of seven years, three months, and eight days.

Bibliography:
1766 Linné, Carl von (=Linneaus). Systema Naturae per regna tria naturae, secundum classes, ordines, genera, species cum characteribus, differentiis, synonymis, locis. Tomus I. [The system of nature through the three kingdoms of nature, according to classes, orders, genera, species with characters, differences, synonyms, places. Volume I.] Laurentii Salvii, Stockholm, Holmiae, Editio duodecima, reformata (12th Edition). 1-532pp.
Contains the original descriptions of Lacerta 6-lineata (=Aspidoscelis sexlineata) page 364, Sistrurus miliarius page 372, Boa contortrix (=Agkistrodon contortrix): page 373, Coluber striatulus (=Haldea striatula) page 275, Coluber punctatus (=Diadophis punctatus) page 376, and Coluber aestivus (=Opheodrys aestivus) page 387.
1911 Hurter, Julius. Herpetology of Missouri. Transactions of the Academy of Science St. Louis 20(5):59-274
1923 Blanchard, Frank N. The snakes of the genus Virginia. Papers of the Michigan Academy of Science, Arts and Letters (3):343-365
1928 Ortenburger, Arthur I. The whip snakes and racers: Genera Masticophis and Coluber. Memiors of the University of Michigan Museum (1):1-247
1936 Brumwell, Malcolm J. Distributional records of the reptilia and amphibians of Kansas. Privately printed, . 22pp.
County dot maps of the Kansas herpetofauna. This work has been attributed to have been written around 1933, but that may be in error. 
Hypsiglena jani was not known from Kansas until Claude W. Hibbard collected three specimens on the Stevenson Ranch in north-central Clark County (above Clark State Lake) during June 1936 (Hibbard, 1937). Brumwell plotted this locality, which leads me to believe that the 1936 would have been the earliest date this manuscript could have been written.
1940 Breukelman, John. The snake Haldea striatula in Kansas. Herpetologica 2(2):56
1947 Hall, Henry H. and Hobart M. Smith. Selected records of reptiles and amphibians from southeastern Kansas Transactions of the Kansas Academy of Science 49(4):447-454
Report on certain Kansas specimens housed in the collection at what is now Pittsburg State University. Included are several species of dubious status today, including Cryptobranchus alleganiensis from the Neosho and Spring rivers (the only specimens from those significant drainages ever documented), Ambystoma maculatum from just north of Pittsburg, Crawford County, Heterodon nasicus from Crawford County, Opheodrys vernalis from Crawford County, Sonora episcopa from Crawford County, Agkistrodon piscivorus from Cherokee County, Crotalus atrox from Crawford County, and Crotalus viridis from Crawford County. They report several significant range extensions including Kinosternon flavescens from Turkey Creek in southeast Cherokee County, Graptemys geographica from just north of Pittsburg, Crotaphytus collaris from near Columbus, Cherokee County, Sceloporus consobrinus from just north of Pittsburg, Phrynosoma cornutum from Cherokee and Crawford counties, Heterodon platirhinos from Cherokee and Crawford counties, Haldea striatula from Crawford County, Sistrurus tergeminus from Crawford County, and a 402 lb Macrochelys temminckii in Cherokee County from just east of Chetopa (Labette County). They allude to the potential for Anaxyrus fowleri to occur in southeast Kansas and for native populations of Crotalus atrox in south central Kansas (in part from the disclosure that John R. Breukelman [then of ESU] had obtained three specimens in Woods County Oklahoma, 3/4 of a mile south of the Kansas line). None of the specimens the paper was based on, exist today.
1950 Smith, Hobart M. Handbook of Amphibians and Reptiles of Kansas. University of Kansas, Museum of Natural History, Miscellaneous Publication (2):336
The first modern herpetology of Kansas. Includes locality dot maps within individual species accounts. Reports 96 species from Kansas (table and text say 97 on p. 10) and 13 "probable but unverified" species and subspecies.
1951 Brumwell, Malcolm J. An ecological survey of the Fort Leavenworth Military Reservation American Midland Naturalist 45(1):187-231
Published posthumously. Lieutenant Brumwell died December 14, 1941, as a result of injuries incurred during the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. This paper is a condensed version of his thesis for the Master's degree.
1952 Wright, A. H., and A. A. Wright. List of the snakes of the United States and Canada by states and provinces. American Midland Naturalist 48(3):574-603
1953 Schmidt, Karl P. A Check List of North American Amphibians and Reptiles. 6th Edition. University of Chicago Press, Chicago, Illinois. 280pp.
Schmidt's first edition of his standardized checklist to North American amphibians and reptiles. Includes several specific references to Kansas in the range descriptions.
1956 Smith, Hobart M. Handbook of Amphibians and Reptiles of Kansas. Second edition. University of Kansas Museum of Natural History Miscellaneous Publication (9):1-356
Hobart M. Smith's updated second edition of his first (1950) modern herpetology of Kansas. Includes locality dot maps within individual species accounts. Reports 96 species from Kansas (table says 97 on p. 10; text says 98 on p. 10) and 11 "probable but unverified" species and subspecies. The second edition has updated taxonomy, added Plestiodon laticeps, and removed Eurycea tynerensis.
1967 Choate, Jerry R. Wildlife in the Wakarusa Watershed of Northeastern Kansas. Kansas Biological Survey, Lawrence. 46pp.
1974 Collins, Joseph T. Amphibians and Reptiles in Kansas University of Kansas Museum of Natural History Public Education Series (1):283 pp
Joseph T. Collins first Kansas herpetology. <Need to get species total and principal differences with previous 'version' (= Smith 1956)>
1974 Pisani, George R. Herpetology in the KU Division of Biological Sciences. Kansas Herpetological Society Newsletter (4):3-4
Mention of Henry Fitch's long-term ecological studies of Diadophis punctatus, Ophisaurus attenuatus, Plestiodon fasciatus, and Scincella lateralis. As well as Pisani's studies of Virginia valeriae, Haldea striatula, and Carphophis vermis.
1974 Platt, Dwight R., Joseph T. Collins, and Ray E. Ashton, Jr. Rare, endangered and extirpated species in Kansas. II. Amphibians and reptiles. Transactions of the Kansas Academy of Science 76(3):185-192
The initial initiative to determine population and conservation status of Kansas' amphibians and reptiles based on our understanding at the time. A lot has changed regarding our increased knowledge on all the listed species.
1974 Fleharty, Eugene D. and Jerry D. Johnson. Distributional records of herptiles from the Chautauqua Hills of southeastern Kansas. Transactions of the Kansas Academy of Science 77(1):65-67
1976 Rundquist, Eric M. Field checklist (of) amphibians and reptiles of Kansas. Kansas Herpetological Society, Lawrence. pp.
1976 Ashton, Ray E., Jr., Stephen R. Edwards, and George R. Pisani. Endangered and threatened amphibians and reptiles in the United States. Herpetological Circulars (5):65
1977 Perry, Janice. Kansas herps needed. Kansas Herpetological Society Newsletter (18):2-3
List of Kansas amphibians and reptiles desired for the SSAR/HL meeting to be held 7-13 August 1977.
1982 Collins, Joseph T. Report to the Kansas Fish and Game Commission on the status of three amphibians in southeastern Kansas. Kansas Fish and Game Commission, Pratt. 57pp.
1982 Collins, Joseph T. Amphibians and Reptiles in Kansas. 2nd edition. University of Kansas Museum of Natural History Public Education Series (8):
Joseph T. Collins second Kansas herpetology. <Need to get species total and principal differences with previous 'version' (= Collins 1974)>
1983 Collins, Joseph T. New records of fishes, amphibians, and reptiles in Kansas for 1982 . Technical Publication of the State Biological Survey of Kansas 13():9-21
1984 Secor, Stephen M. and Charles C. Carpenter. Distribution maps of Oklahoma reptiles. Oklahoma Herpetological Society Special Publication (3):1-57
1986 Layher, William G., Ken L. Brunson, J.Schaefer, Marvin D. Schwilling, and R. D. Wood. Summary of nongame task force actions relative to developing three species lists: Species in Need of Conservation, Threatened, and Endangered. Kansas Fish and Game Commission, Pratt. 27pp.
1988 Busby, William H. The Kansas Natural Heritage Program: Taking stock of Kansas' natural heritage. Kansas Herpetological Society Newsletter (71):9-12
1989 Simmons, John E. Endangered and threatened in Kansas. Kansas Herpetological Society Newsletter (75):4-5
1990 Lardie, Richard L. Kansas threatened species and protection of the Gypsum Hills habitat. Kansas Herpetological Society Newsletter (80):14-15
1990 Collins, Joseph T. Maximum size records for Kansas amphibians and reptiles. Kansas Herpetological Society Newsletter (81):13-17
1991 Conant, Roger and Joseph T. Collins. Peterson Field Guide to Reptiles and Amphibians of Eastern and Central North America. 3rd ed. Houghton Mifflin Company, Boston, Massachusetts. pp.
1991 Rossman, Douglas A. and Van Wallach. Virginia. Catalogue of American Amphibians and Reptiles (529):1-4
1992 Taggart, Travis W. KHS field trips. Kansas Herpetological Society Newsletter (91):3
1993 Collins, Joseph T. and Suzanne L. Collins. Amphibians and Reptiles in Kansas. Third Edition. University Press of Kansas, Lawrence, Lawrence. 397pp.
Joseph T. Collins third Kansas herpetology. <Need to get species total and principal differences with previous 'version' (= Collins 1982)>
1994 Rundquist, Eric M. 1994 Field Trip Kansas Herpetological Society Newsletter (95):3-4
1994 Riedle, J. Daren. Distribution of the Timber Rattlesnake (Crotalus horridus) in Chautauqua, Elk, and Montgomery counties, Kansas. Kansas Herpetological Society Newsletter (95):43051
1994 Powell, Robert, Joseph T. Collins, and Lee D. Fish. Virginia striatula. Catalogue of American Amphibians and Reptiles (599):1-6
1996 Rakestraw, J. Spring herp counts: A Kansas tradition. Reptile & Amphibian Magazine (March-April):75-80
1998 Conant, Roger and Joseph T. Collins. Peterson Field Guide to Reptiles and Amphibians of Eastern and Central North America. 3rd ed, expanded. Houghton Mifflin Company, Boston, Massachusetts. pp.
1998 Powell, Robert, Joseph T Collins, and Errol D Hooper Jr. A Key to Amphibians & Reptiles of the Continental United States and Canada. Univ Press of Kansas, Lawrence, Kansas. 131pp.
2002 Kingsbury, Bruce and Joanna Gibson. Habitat Management Guidelines for Amphibians and Reptiles of the Midwest. Publication of Partners in Amphibian and Reptile Conservation, Address not given. 152pp.
2003 Taggart, Travis W. Kansas Herpetological Society 2003 spring field trip. Journal of Kansas Herpetology (5):3-4
2005 Brunson, Ken. Kansas species in need of conservation (SINC). Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks, Pratt, Kansas. 71pp.
2006 Taggart, Travis W. Distribution and status of Kansas herpetofauna in need of information. State Wildlife Grant T7. Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks, Pratt. vii + 106pp.
2008 Industrial Economics, Incorporated. Cherokee County: Restoration Plan / Environmental Assessment. Prepared for: US Department of the Interior, US Fish and Wildlife Service. Industrial Economics, Incorporated, Cambridge, MA. 138pp.
2010 Collins, Joseph T., Suzanne L. Collins, and Travis W. Taggart. Amphibians, Reptiles, and Turtles of Kansas Eagle Mountain Publishing., Provo, Utah. 400pp.
Joseph T. Collins fourth Kansas herpetology. <Need to get species total and principal differences with previous 'version' (= Collins 1993)>
2010 Gray, Brian S. Distribution of native and exotic earthworms in the eastern United States: Implications for the ecology of vermivorous snakes. Bulletin of the Chicago Herpetological Society 45(5):73-86
2011 Taggart, Travis W. Kansas Herpetological Society 2011 spring field trip to beheld in Chautauqua County. Journal of Kansas Herpetology (37):5-7
2011 Taggart, Travis W. Results of the KHS Spring Field Trip to Chautauqua County. Journal of Kansas Herpetology (38):2-4
2012 Rohweder, Megan R. Spatial conservation prioritization of Kansas for terrestrial vertebrates. Thesis. Fort Hays State University, Hays, Kansas. 151pp.
2012 Powell, Robert, Joseph T Collins, and Errol D Hooper Jr. Key to the Herpetofauna of the Continental United States and Canada: Second Edition, Revised and Updated. Univ Press of Kansas, Lawrence, Kansas. 152pp.
2013 Taggart, Travis W. KHS 2013 Spring Field Trip to Schermerhorn Park, Cherokee County. Collinsorum 2(3/4):4
2014 Taggart, Travis W. Recent scientific and standard English name changes effecting the Kansas herpetofauna. Collinsorum 3(2-4):9-10
2014 Pisani, George R. Characterization and significance of sexually dimorphic gape in the Rough Earth Snake, Virginia striatula. Transactions of the Kansas Academy of Science 117(3-4):223-231
2015 Rohweder, Megan R. Kansas Wildlife Action Plan. Ecological Services Section, Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism in cooperation with the Kansas Biological Survey. 176pp.
2016 Powell, Robert, Roger Conant, and Joseph T. Collins. Peterson Field Guide to Reptiles and Amphibians of Eastern and Central North America. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, Boston. 494pp.
2016 Taggart, Travis W. Results of the KHS Summer field trip to Caney River, Chautauqua County, Kansas. Collinsorum 5(2-3):4-5
2016 Pisani, George R. Characterization and significance of sexual dimorphism in gape size in Virginia valeriae ssp with comparisons to V. striatula. Collinsorum 5(2-3):8-17
2017 Crother, Brian I. (editor) Scientific and Standard English Names of Amphibians and Reptiles of North America North of Mexico, with Comments Regarding Confidence in Our Understanding. Eighth edition. Herpetological Circulars (43):1-102
2019 Powell, Robert, Joseph T Collins, and Errol D Hooper Jr. Key to the Herpetofauna of the Continental United States and Canada. Third Edition. Univ Press of Kansas, Lawrence, Kansas. 192pp.
2019 Byrd, Brock. First Report of the Rough Earthsnake (Haldea striatula) in Labette County. Collinsorum 8(1):5
2020 Daniel, Richard E. and Brian S. Edmond. Atlas of Missouri Amphibians and Reptiles for 2019. Privately printed, Columbia, Missouri. 86pp.
2020 Riedle, J. Daren. Revisiting Kansas Herpetological Society field trip and Herp Count data: Distributional patterns and trend data of Kansas amphibians and reptiles. Collinsorum 9(1):7-16
2020 Hullinger, Allison, Zackary Cordes, Daren Riedle, and William Stark. Habitat assessment of the Broad-headed Skink (Plestiodon laticeps) and the associated squamate community in eastern Kansas. Transactions of the Kansas Academy of Science 123(1-2):137-150
2021 Taggart, Travis W and Sarah L Taggart. Herp Count: Cherokee County: KHS-2020-02 Collinsorum 9(3):11-12
2021 Taggart, Travis W and Sarah L Taggart. Herp Count: Cherokee County: KHS-2020-03 Collinsorum 9(3):12
2023 Nunez, Leroy, Levi N Gray, David Weisrock, and Frank T Burbrink. The phylogenomic and biogeographic history of the Gartersnakes, Watersnakes, and Allies (Natricidae: Thamnophiini). Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution 186(5:107844):12
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Travis W. Taggart © 1999-2024 — w/ Sternberg Museum of Natural History, Fort Hays State University