Smooth Greensnake

small green snake coiled in straw
Species of Conservation Concern
Scientific Name
Opheodrys vernalis
Colubridae (nonvenomous snakes) in the order Squamata (lizards and snakes)

Smooth greensnakes have been declared extirpated from Missouri, but perhaps someone may rediscover this gentle snake in grassy meadows in the northern half of the state. The smooth greensnake is a slender, light green snake devoid of any markings, with a yellow or cream-colored belly.

This rare species differs from the northern rough greensnake by having smooth scales, a smaller size, and a more northern distribution in Missouri. Upon death, both species of greensnakes turn a pale blue.

Other Common Names
Smooth Green Snake

Length: 14 to 20 inches.

Where To Find
Smooth Greensnake Distribution Map

Declared extirpated from Missouri. If it is ever rediscovered in our state, the most likely place would be in grassy meadows in the northern half of the state.

This species once lived in grassy habitats in the northern half of the state. Due to habitat destruction and insecticides, smooth greensnakes have not been seen in the state for many years. Several specimens were collected in north-central Missouri in the 1950s, but that was the last time this species was collected in our state. It has been declared extirpated from Missouri.

They feed mainly on insects, spiders, and slugs.

A Species of Conservation Concern; extirpated from Missouri. Its nearest secure populations are to the north and east of Missouri.

When humans apply pesticides to destroy insects, they often indirectly harm populations of the animals that feed upon insects. For this reason, and because humans have developed, altered or fragmented its habitat, this species has apparently entirely disappeared from our state. But we can still hope to rediscover them.

This harmless snake struggles to escape, but it seldom attempts to bite when handled.

This slender snake specializes in eating insects. It is a natural, nontoxic "pesticide." The green color functions as camouflage. Birds, mammals, and even other snakes eat this small snake.

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Similar Species
About Reptiles and Amphibians in Missouri
Missouri’s herptiles comprise 43 amphibians and 75 reptiles. Amphibians, including salamanders, toads, and frogs, are vertebrate animals that spend at least part of their life cycle in water. They usually have moist skin, lack scales or claws, and are ectothermal (cold-blooded), so they do not produce their own body heat the way birds and mammals do. Reptiles, including turtles, lizards, and snakes, are also vertebrates, and most are ectothermal, but unlike amphibians, reptiles have dry skin with scales, the ones with legs have claws, and they do not have to live part of their lives in water.