Carphophis vermis
(Kennicott [in Baird], 1859)

kăr-fō-fĭs — vĕr-mĭs

An adult Western Wormsnake from Bourbon County, Kansas. Image © Dan Fogell.
Adult Western Wormsnake from Marshall County. © Maci Loughrea.
An adult Western Wormsnake from Cherokee County, Kansas. Image © Lisa Wehrly.
An adult specimen from Franklin County. Image © Suzanne L. Collins, CNAH.
An adult from Jefferson County. Image © Jim Scharosch.
An adult from Labette County, Kansas. Photograph by Robin Oldham ©.
An adult Western Wormsnake from Wabaunsee County. © Maci Loughrea.
An adult Western Worm Snake from Chase County, Kansas. © Suzanne L. Collins, CNAH.

Harmless. Shiny, glossy smooth scales. Body uniform dark gray to brown above; pink or coral belly, color extends up onto sides of the body. Head is flattened to aid in moving through loose earth. Young same as adults, but belly may be more intense pink. Western worm snakes have a dark, black or brownish dorsal coloration, with a pink or reddish underside.
Adults normally grow 190-280 mm (7½-11 inches) in TL; largest specimen from Kansas: female (KU 206169) from Doniphan County with TL of 366 mm (14 3/8 inches) collected by Robert Powell on 2 May 1986; maximum length throughout range: 15 3/8 inches (Conant and Collins, 1998); maximum weight for Kansas specimen: 14.5 grams(½ ounce).

Found in the more heavily forested eastern third of Kansas. This species favors more heavily forested areas and makes it into the Flint Hills along riparian corridors.

(, Museum Voucher) (, Observation) (, Literature Record)
Open icons are questionable records; Click on a marker to view details. Export Google Earth (.kml)
  • Occurrence Summary:  
  • 882 Total Records 
  • 841 Museum Vouchers 
  • 41 Other Observations 
Some county occurrences indicated below may be too imprecise to map above.
County Breakdown: County Name (# occurrences):
Allen (7); Anderson (70); Atchison (5); Bourbon (70); Brown (4); Chase (6); Chautauqua (6); Cherokee (113); Cloud (1); Coffey (1); Cowley (4); Crawford (59); Dickinson (1); Doniphan (10); Douglas (187); Elk (5); Franklin (21); Geary (2); Greenwood (1); Jackson (3); Jefferson (31); Johnson (36); Labette (5); Leavenworth (22); Linn (23); Lyon (2); Marion (1); Marshall (5); Miami (56); Montgomery (9); Morris (1); Neosho (4); Osage (23); Pottawatomie (8); Riley (33); Shawnee (7); Unknown (2); Wabaunsee (2); Wilson (18); Woodson (4); Wyandotte (13);

Natural History:
Found under rocks, on rocky wooded hillsides, and along the forest edge. Active from March to November; breeds in spring and lays up to 5 eggs that hatch in August. Eats earthworms. Very secretive; generally can only be found under rocks during April; spends rest of year beneath the ground. Never bites.
Little is known about their mating habits, but breeding likely occurs in the early spring and eggs are laid in the early summer. Clutch size is normally 1-8 eggs and hatching takes place in August or September. Hatchlings range in size from 3 to 4 inches (7 to 10 cm).

Occurrence Activity:
White dates indicate there is at least a single recorded occurrence on that date. The darker blue a date is, the greater the relative number of observations for that date.
Burth and Hoyle (1935) reported on a Western Wormsnake collected under stones on a grassy hillside near a spring not far from Spring River and about 3 miles north of Baxter Springs, Cherokee County, Kansas, by Edward H. Taylor and Hobart M. Smith on 4 April 1931.

1859 Baird, Spencer F. Reptiles of the Boundary, in: Volume 2, pt. 2 United States and Mexican Boundary Survey, U.S. 34th Congress, 1st Session, Executive Document 108. 1-35pp.
1875 Cope, Edward D. Check-list of North American Batrachia and Reptilia; with a systematic list of the higher groups, and an essay on geographical distribution. Based on the specimens contained in the U.S. National Museum. Bulletin of the United States National Museum 1():1-104
1877 Mozley, Annie E List of Kansas snakes in the museum of the Kansas State Univeristy Transactions of the Kansas Academy of Science 6():34-35
1882 Yarrow, Henry C. Check list of North American Reptilia and Batrachia with catalogue of specimens in U. S. National Museum. Bulletin of the United States National Museum (24):1-249
1883 Garman, Samuel. The reptiles and batrachians of North America.  Kentucky Geological Survey. Yeoman Press., Frankfort, Kentucky. 185pp.
1883 Garman, Samuel. The reptiles and batrachians of North America. Memiors of the Museum of Comparative Zoology, Harvard University 8(3):xxxi + 1-185
1901 Brown, Arthur Erwin. A review of the genera and species of American snakes, north of Mexico. Proceedings of the Academy of Natural Sciences, Philadelphia 53(1):10-110
1904 Branson, Edwin B. Snakes of Kansas. University of Kansas Science Bulletin 2(13):353-430
1907 Ditmars, Raymond L. The Reptile Book; A comprehensive, Popularised Work on the Structure and Habits of the Turtles, Tortoises, Crocodilians, Lizards and Snakes which Inhabit the United States and Northern Mexico. Doubleday, Pae, and Company, New York. 472pp.
1911 Hurter, Julius. Herpetology of Missouri. Transactions of the Academy of Science St. Louis 20(5):59-274
1925 Linsdale, Jean M. Land Vertebrates of a Limited Area in Eastern Kansas. Thesis. University of Kansas, Lawrence, Kansas. 312pp.
1927 Linsdale, Jean M. Amphibians and reptiles of Doniphan County, Kansas. Copeia 1927(164):75-81
1928 Burt, Charles E. Some distributional and ecological records of Kansas reptiles. Transactions of the Academy of Science St. Louis 26():186-208
1928 Gloyd, Howard Kay The amphibians and reptiles of Franklin County, Kansas. Transactions of the Kansas Academy of Science 31():115-141
1929 Taylor, Edward H. A revised checklist of the snakes of Kansas. University of Kansas Science Bulletin 19(5):53-62
1932 Gloyd, Howard K. The herpetological fauna of the Pigeon Lake Region, Miami County, Kansas. Papers of the Museum of Zoology, University of Michigan 15():389-408
1933 Stejneger, Leonhard and Thomas Barbour. A Checklist of North American Amphibians and Reptiles. 3rd Edition. Harvard University Press, Cambridge,Massachusetts. pp.
1934 Burt, Charles E. and W. L. Hoyle. Additional records of the reptiles of the central prairie region of the United States. Transactions of the Kansas Academy of Science 37():193-216
1935 Burt, Charles E. and William L. Hoyle. Additional records of the reptiles of the central prairie region of the United States Transactions of the Kansas Academy of Science 37():193-216
1937 Trowbridge, A. H Ecological observations on amphibians and reptiles collected in southeastern Oklahoma during the summer of 1934 American Midland Naturalist 18(2):285-303
1951 Brumwell, Malcolm J. An ecological survey of the Fort Leavenworth Military Reservation American Midland Naturalist 45(1):187-231
1953 Schmidt, Karl P. A Check List of North American Amphibians and Reptiles. 6th Edition. University of Chicago Press, Chicago, Illinois. 280pp.
1956 Loomis, Richard B. The chigger mites of Kansas (Acarina, Trombiculidae). University of Kansas Science Bulletin 37():1195-1443
1958 Clarke, Robert F. An ecological study of the reptiles and amphibians in Osage County, Kansas. Emporia State Research Studies,Kansas State Teachers College 7(1):1-52
1970 Clark, Donald R. Ecological study of the worm snake Carphophis vermis (Kennicott) University of Kansas Publications Museum of Natural History 19(2):213-219
1976 Caldwell, Janalee P. and Gregory. Glass. Vertebrates of the Woodson County State Fishing Lake and Game Management Area. Pages 62-76 in Preliminary inventory of the biota of Woodson County State Fishing Lake and Game Management Area. Report No. 5. State Biological Survey of Kansas, Lawrence. pp.
1982 Fitch, Henry S. Resources of a snake community in prairie-woodland habitat of northeastern Kansas. Pages 83-97 in Herpetological communities: A symposium of the Society for the Study of Amphibians and Reptiles and the Herpetologists League, August 1977.  Wildlife Research Reports 12. 239 pp. U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Washington, D. C. pp.
1985 Heinrich, Mark L. and D. W. Kaufman Herpetofauna of the Konza Prairie Research Natural Area, Kansas Prairie Naturalist 17(2):101-112
1991 Fitch, Henry S. Reptiles and amphibians of the Kansas ecological reserves. Pages 71-74 in Multidisciplinary Guidebook 4. Kansas Academy of Science, Lawrence. pp.
1994 Fitzgerald, Eve and Charles Nilon Classification of habitats for endangered and threatened species in Wyandotte County, Kansas Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks, Pratt, Kansas. 98pp.
1999 Taggart, Travis W. Cherokee County fall 1999 herp count. Kansas Herpetological Society Newsletter (117):6
2001 Taggart, Travis W. The KHS 2001 spring field trip: A rainy rendezvous. Kansas Herpetological Society Newsletter (124):12-14
2002 Riedle, J. Daren and A. Hynek. Amphibian and reptile inventory of the Kansas Army Ammunition Plant, Labette County, Kansas. Journal of Kansas Herpetology (2):18-20
2003 Ernst, Carl H. and E. M. Ernst. Snakes of the United States and Canada. Smithsonian Institution Press, Washington, D. C. pp.
2003 Ernst, Carl H., J. M. Orr and T. R. Creque. Carphophis vermis. Catalogue of American Amphibians and Reptiles (775):1-4
2003 Ernst, Carl H., J. M. Orr, and T. R. Creque. Carphophis. Catalogue of American Amphibians and Reptiles (773):1-2
2003 Freeman, Craig C. A natural areas inventory of the Ft. Leavenworth Military Reservation, Leavenworth County, Kansas. II. Open-file Report No. 117. Kansas Biological Survey, Lawrence, Kansas. 199pp.
2005 Taggart, Travis W. Results of the KHS 2005 fall field trip [to Crawford County]. Journal of Kansas Herpetology (16):19-21
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 Taggart, Travis W. KHS 2008 spring field trip. Journal of Kansas Herpetology (25):2-3
2011 McMartin, David C. U. S. Army 2011 Fort Leavenworth Herpetofaunal Survey: 23 April - 09 May 2011. Privately printed, Leavenworth, Kansas. 33pp.
2012 Hamilton, Bryan Tyler, Rachel Hart , and Jack W. Sites Jr. Feeding Ecology of the Milksnake (Lampropeltis triangulum, Colubridae) in the Western United States. Journal of Herpetology 46(4):515-522
2012 Rohweder, Megan R. Spatial conservation prioritization of Kansas for terrestrial vertebrates. Thesis. Fort Hays State University, Hays, Kansas. 151pp.
2016 Pittman, Galen L., Henry S. Fitch, and W. Dean Kettle Vertebrate animals on the Fitch Natural History Reservation (1948-2002) Kansas Biological Survey Report Number 188, Lawrence. 48pp.
Account Last Updated:
9/11/2018 10:56:01 AM

Travis W. Taggart © 2020 — Sternberg Museum of Natural History, Fort Hays State University