Tiny Snakes

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Published on: May. 2, 2007

Last revision: Nov. 30, 2010

Snakes of Missouri

August. Ground snakes have several enlarged, grooved teeth at the back of their upper jaws that may allow them to inject venom into their prey. The prey of this species includes small scorpions, centipedes and spiders, including small black widow spiders. Ground snakes are not dangerous to people.

Western Worm Snake

Carphophis vermis

Length: 7 to 11 inches

Purplish-brown above and salmon pink below, western worm snakes live underground and under flat rocks. Like many of our small snakes, they have a cone-shaped head and smooth skin that help them burrow through soil. Worm snakes also have a unique, sharp (but harmless) tip on their tail that may help them maneuver through the ground.

Western worm snakes are found throughout Missouri, except in the southeastern corner of the state and a few counties in north-central Missouri.

This species lives on wooded hillsides that have abundant rocks for shelter. They eat earthworms and soft-bodied insects. They lay eggs that hatch in August.

Midland Brown Snake

Storeria dekayi wrightorum

Length: 9 to 13 inches

The midland brown snake is one of several of Missouri’s tiny snakes related to garter snakes and water snakes.

They are a gray-brown to reddish-brown snake with two rows of small, dark brown spots along the back. These spots are usually joined by small, dark brown lines across a tan stripe. Their belly is white or yellowish and has no markings.

This species prefers moist woodlands, where they take shelter under logs or rocks. Brown snakes eat mostly earthworms, but they also consume slugs, land snails and some soft-bodied insects.

Like garter snakes, brown snakes give birth to live young during late summer. Midland brown snakes can be found throughout most of Missouri. In the western third of the state, however, the Texas brown snake (Storeria dekayi texana) is more common.

Lined Snake

Tropidoclonion lineatum

Length: 8 to 15 inches

Another relative of garter snakes, lined snakes are brown to grayish-brown with a lighter color stripe down the middle of the back and another light line along each side. The belly is white with two rows of black markings shaped like half moons.

This reclusive species can be found in open woodlands and prairies or on rocky hillsides. They take shelter under flat rocks or other objects on the ground. Earthworms are their main prey. From two to 12 young are born during July and August. This species occurs in east central, northeast and west Missouri and in a small part of central Missouri.

Prairie Ring-necked Snake


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