Western Smooth Earthsnake (Western Smooth Earth Snake)

Virginia valeriae elegans
Colubridae (nonvenomous snakes) in the order Squamata (lizards and snakes)

The western earthsnake is a small, slightly stout, plain-colored snake with a conical head. The color is gray to light brown or reddish brown. It has no distinct markings. The belly is plain white or cream-colored.

Similar species: The rough earthsnake is closely related and extremely similar in appearance. Western smooth earthsnakes have relatively smooth scales along the back, 6 labial scales along the upper lip, and 2 scales between the nostrils. Rough earthsnakes have keeled scales along the back (which make them feel rough), 5 labial scales along the upper lip, and a single scale between the nostrils.

Length: 7 to 10 inches.
Habitat and conservation: 
This nondescript little snake lives under rocks on rocky, wooded hillsides and in moist woods It is most often encountered under rocks, in leaf litter, or under other objects.
Foods include earthworms, slugs, and some soft-bodied insects.
Distribution in Missouri: 
Statewide except for the northwestern corner.
Life cycle: 
This species is normally active from April through October. Mating occurs during May and June and possibly in the autumn. Young are born in August through September, and there are from 2 to 14 in a litter. The newborns are about 3–4½ inches long.
Human connections: 
Although many people think of an animal’s value only in terms of its economic imprint on human affairs, the science of ecology has shown us that each component of the natural community plays a unique and important role. Valuing nature means valuing even the smallest plants and animals.
Ecosystem connections: 
These small predators control populations of the animals they consume. As with many other rather small predatory species, earthsnakes can be preyed upon themselves by larger animals, including mammals and predatory birds. Newborns are especially vulnerable.
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