Opheodrys aestivus
(Linnaeus 1766)

ō-fē-ō-drēz — ĕs-tĭ-vŭs

An adult Rough Greensnake from Bourbon County, Kansas. Image © Dan Fogell.
An adult from Allen County. Image © Travis W. Taggart.
An adult from Bourbon County. Image © Suzanne L. Collins, CNAH.
An adult from Cherokee County. Image © Suzanne L. Collins, CNAH.

Harmless. Named for the weakly keeled, bright green scales covering its body. A slender-bodied serpent with a white to yellow-colored belly. The tail is very long, almost 40% of total body length; the tail is used as a counterweight when the snake is moving through branches of bushes and brush. Young are miniature adults.
The snake is bright green above and has a yellowish belly, affording it excellent camouflage in green vegetation. It grows up to 40 inches (102 cm) in length and is very thin. There are 17 dorsal scale rows at mid-body and the scales are keeled. The pupils are round. Juvenile coloration is similar to adults, but not as brightly colored.
Adults normally grow 560-810 mm (22-32 inches) in TL; largest specimen from Kansas: female (KU 45334) from Elk County with TL of 877 mm (34½ inches) collected by Henry S. Fitch on 8 July 1957; maximum length throughout range: 45¼ inches (Conant and Collins, 1998).

Known from moderately to heavily wooded areas in southeast Kansas from the Arkansas River drainage north to the Kansas River basin.

(, Museum Voucher) (, Observation) (, Literature Record)
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  • Occurrence Summary:  
  • 162 Total Records 
  • 141 Museum Vouchers 
  • 21 Other Observations 
Some county occurrences indicated below may be too imprecise to map above.
County Breakdown: County Name (# occurrences):
Allen (4); Anderson (11); Bourbon (10); Butler (1); Chautauqua (7); Cherokee (29); Cowley (6); Crawford (11); Douglas (2); Elk (2); Franklin (25); Greenwood (2); Johnson (4); Labette (11); Linn (6); Miami (3); Montgomery (3); Neosho (4); Sumner (2); Wilson (5); Woodson (8); Wyandotte (6);

Natural History:
Active during the day from April to early October. Prefers bushes or shrubs along the edge of streams and swamps; sometimes found on open brushy ridges, under rocks, or crossing roads. Very difficult to observe because its color blends so well with green vegetation.
Burt and Hoyle (1935) stated that they may be found under rocks in prairie ledges in the early spring, but later they are most likely to be located in vegetation, especially in shrubs and trees.
Breeding occurs in spring or autumn; up to 10 eggs per clutch are laid in June or July. Specializes in feeding on caterpillars, grasshoppers, crickets, dragonflies, damselflies, and spiders.
The Rough Green Snake breeds in spring, and sometimes again in fall. Females lay 3-12 eggs, occasionally in a communal nest shared by more than one female. Up to 75 eggs have been found in one such nest. The nest site varies: under boards, under bark in rotting stumps, in deep mulch, or under a rock. Hatchlings from spring breeding typically emerge in August or September and are about 20 cm in length.

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.
This small, slender snake blends in well with shrubs, trees, and grasses it spends most of its time in. Most encounters with this species occur as it attempts to crossroads.

1766 Linné, Carl von (=Linneaus). Systema Naturae per regna tria naturae, secundum classes, ordines, genera, species cum characteribus, differentiis, synonymis, locis. Tomus I Laurentii Salvii, Stockholm, Holmiae, Editio duodecima, reformata (12th Edition). 1-532pp.
1885 Cragin, Francis W. On the Washburn Biological Survey of Kansas. Kansas City Review of Science 8(10):576-580
1885 Cragin, Francis W. Recent additions to the list of Kansas reptiles and batrachians, with further notes on species previously reported. Bulletin of the Washburn College Laboratory of Natural History 1(3):100-103
1885 Cragin, Francis W. Second contribution to the herpetology of Kansas, with observations on the Kansas fauna. Transactions of the Kansas Academy of Science 9():136-140
1904 Branson, Edwin B. Snakes of Kansas. University of Kansas Science Bulletin 2(13):353-430
1911 Hurter, Julius. Herpetology of Missouri. Transactions of the Academy of Science St. Louis 20(5):59-274
1922 Loding, H. P. A preliminary catalogue of Alabama amphibians and reptiles. Geological Survey of Alabama, Museum Paper (5):59
1928 Burt, Charles E. Some distributional and ecological records of Kansas reptiles. Transactions of the Academy of Science St. Louis 26():186-208
1929 Taylor, Edward H. A revised checklist of the snakes of Kansas. University of Kansas Science Bulletin 19(5):53-62
1931 Haltom, William L. Alabama reptiles. Alabama Museum of Natural History Museum Paper (11):1-145
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
1941 Mansueti, R. A descriptive catalogue of the amphibians and reptiles found in and around Baltimore City, Maryland, within a radius of twenty miles. Proceedings of the Natural History Society of Maryland 7():1-53
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
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.
1992 Taggart, Travis W. Observations on Kansas amphibians and reptiles Kansas Herpetological Society Newsletter (88):13-15
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
2000 Taggart, Travis W. Results of the KHS 2000 fall field trip. Kansas Herpetological Society Newsletter (122):6-8
2000 Walley, Harlan D. and Michael V. Plummer. Opheodrys aestivus. Catalogue of American Amphibians and Reptiles (718):1-14
2001 Collins, Joseph T. New records of amphibians and reptiles in Kansas for 2000. Kansas Herpetological Society Newsletter (124):6-8
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
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.
2012 Rohweder, Megan R. Spatial conservation prioritization of Kansas for terrestrial vertebrates. Thesis. Fort Hays State University, Hays, Kansas. 151pp.
Account Last Updated:
11/19/2018 2:24:00 PM

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