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Eastern Worm Snakes vs. Smooth Earth Snakes

 Eastern Worm Snakes vs. Smooth Earth Snakes


In the underbrush and hidden corners of the Eastern United States, two secretive creatures slither unnoticed: the Eastern Worm Snake (*Carphophis amoenus*) and the Smooth Earth Snake (*Virginia valeriae*). Though both are small, non-venomous, and often mistaken for one another, several key characteristics set them apart. This post will guide you through these differences, providing a visual aid to identify these elusive snakes in their natural habitats.


 Body Shape and Size



Eastern Worm Snake: This species is slender and typically measures 7 to 11 inches in length. Their bodies are more cylindrical, resembling earthworms, which is a helpful camouflage against predators.


Smooth Earth Snake: Smooth Earth Snakes are slightly thicker in body compared to Worm Snakes and grow to about 7 to 10 inches long. Their build is less cylindrical and more traditionally snake-like.


 Coloration and Patterns

Eastern Worm Snake: The upper side is usually a darker red-brown to almost black, providing an earthy appearance, while the belly is pink to reddish-brown, often vividly contrasting with the darker back.

Smooth Earth Snake: These snakes display a gray to brown upper side, which may sometimes have a reddish tint but generally lack the vivid contrast seen in Worm Snakes. Their bellies are usually a lighter gray or cream, with less contrast than the Worm Snake.



 Head Shape and Eyes

Eastern Worm Snake: The head is small, pointed, and barely distinguishable from the neck. Their eyes are small and dark, blending in with their dark head.

Smooth Earth Snake: Smooth Earth Snakes have a slightly broader head compared to their neck, with larger, more noticeable eyes.


Scales

Eastern Worm Snake: The scales of the Eastern Worm Snake are smooth and glossy, which contributes to their worm-like appearance.

Smooth Earth Snake: While also having smooth scales, the Smooth Earth Snake's scales do not have the same glossy sheen, giving them a more matte finish.


 Habitat Preferences


Eastern Worm Snake: Prefers wooded hillsides with plenty of leaf litter and loose soil, which they burrow into for hunting earthworms.



Smooth Earth Snake: Often found in more varied habitats, including wooded areas, grasslands, and near streams, where they hunt soft-bodied insects.


Though both the Eastern Worm Snake and the Smooth Earth Snake are elusive and share similar secretive lifestyles, their physical differences are distinct. By paying attention to their body shape, coloration, head shape, and preferred habitats, you can learn to tell these two species apart. With this guide and accompanying photos, your next encounter with these hidden creatures will be an informed one, deepening your appreciation for the subtle diversity of the natural world.

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