- (Harlan, 1827)
Other English Common Names: Smooth Green Snake, smooth greensnake
Liochlorophis vernalis (Harlan, 1827)
Taxonomic Status: Accepted
Related ITIS Name(s):
Opheodrys vernalis (Harlan, 1827) (TSN 174173)
French Common Names: couleuvre verte
Unique Identifier: ELEMENT_GLOBAL.2.103123
Element Code: ARADB47010
Informal Taxonomy: Animals, Vertebrates
Genus Size: B - Very small genus (2-5 species)
Check this box to expand all report sections:
Concept Reference: Collins, J. T. 1990. Standard common and current scientific names for North American amphibians and reptiles. 3rd ed. Society for the Study of Amphibians and Reptiles. Herpetological Circular No. 19. 41 pp.
Concept Reference Code: B90COL01NAUS
Name Used in Concept Reference: Opheodrys vernalis
Taxonomic Comments: Oldham and Smith (1991) demonstrated several significant categorical differences between Opheodrys aestivus and O. vernalis, indicative of a long history of divergent evolution; they assigned the latter species to a new genus (Liochlorophis), leaving aestivus as the only member of the genus Opheodrys. Crother et al. (2000) and Crother (2008, 2012) maintained vernalis in the genus Opheodrys, based on (1) unpublished genetic data indicating a sister-taxa relationship between vernalis and aestivus and (2) their preference not to recognize monotypic sister genera. Walley (2003) concluded that available evidence supports recognition the new genus.
There has been some disagreement as to whether subspecies (vernalis, blanchardi) should be recognized (cf. Collins 1990, Smith et al. 1991, Grobman 1992). Grobman (1992) named a new subspecies (borealis) from Nova Scotia and New Brunswick, based on the relatively low ventral scale count.
Global Status: G5
Global Status Last Reviewed: 09Dec2005
Global Status Last Changed: 30Oct1996
Rounded Global Status: G5 - Secure
Reasons: Wide, discontinuous range in eastern and centtral North America; globally secure due primarily to extensive range and many extant occurrences; often apparently uncommon, locally common in some areas; information on populations is scant.
Nation: United States
National Status: N5
National Status: N5
U.S. & Canada State/Province Status
Colorado (S4), Connecticut (S3S4), Idaho (SH), Illinois (S3S4), Indiana (S2), Iowa (S3), Kansas (S1), Maine (S5), Maryland (S5), Massachusetts (S5), Michigan (S5), Minnesota (S4), Missouri (SX), Montana (S2), Nebraska (S1), New Hampshire (S3), New Jersey (S3), New Mexico (S4), New York (S4), North Dakota (SNR), Ohio (S4), Pennsylvania (S3S4), Rhode Island (S5), South Dakota (S4), Texas (SX), Utah (S3), Vermont (S3), Virginia (S3), West Virginia (S5), Wisconsin (S4), Wyoming (S2)
Manitoba (S3S4), New Brunswick (S5), Nova Scotia (S5), Ontario (S4), Prince Edward Island (S3), Quebec (S3S4), Saskatchewan (S3)
Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada (COSEWIC): Candidate (High)
IUCN Red List Category: LC - Least concern
NatureServe Global Conservation Status Factors
Range Extent: 200,000-2,500,000 square km (about 80,000-1,000,000 square miles)
Range Extent Comments: The range extends from Nova Scotia westward across southern Canada to southeastern Saskatchewan, south and west to northern New Jersey, western Maryland, Virginia, West Virginia, southern Ohio, northwestern Indiana, Illinois, Missouri, Nebraska, New Mexico, Chihuahua (Mexico), and Utah, and highly disjunctly to southeastern Texas; the distribution is highly discontinuous throughout the western half of the range (Conant and Collins 1991, Grobman 1992, Walley 2003).
Area of Occupancy: >12,500 4-km2 grid cells
Area of Occupancy Comments:
Number of Occurrences: > 300
Number of Occurrences Comments: This species is represented by a very large number of occurrences or subpopulations (Walley 2003).
Population Size: 100,000 to >1,000,000 individuals
Population Size Comments: Total adult population size is unknown but certainly exceeds 100,000. The species is apparently uncommon in many areas, but it is locally common in some areas.
Number of Occurrences with Good Viability/Integrity: Many to very many (41 to >125)
Overall Threat Impact: Medium
Overall Threat Impact Comments: No major threats have been identified. Local populations are threatened by habitat loss and degradation resulting from human activities and successional changes, but in general the species is not very threatened.
Short-term Trend: Relatively Stable (<=10% change)
Short-term Trend Comments: Extent of occurrence, area of occupancy, number of occurrences or subpopulations, and population size probably are relatively stable or slowly declining (less than 10% over 10 years or three generations).
Long-term Trend: Decline of <30% to increase of 25%
Long-term Trend Comments: Populations declined in northwestern Indiana between the 1930s and 1990s (Brodman et al. 2002).
Intrinsic Vulnerability: Moderately vulnerable
Other NatureServe Conservation Status Information
(200,000-2,500,000 square km (about 80,000-1,000,000 square miles))
The range extends from Nova Scotia westward across southern Canada to southeastern Saskatchewan, south and west to northern New Jersey, western Maryland, Virginia, West Virginia, southern Ohio, northwestern Indiana, Illinois, Missouri, Nebraska, New Mexico, Chihuahua (Mexico), and Utah, and highly disjunctly to southeastern Texas; the distribution is highly discontinuous throughout the western half of the range (Conant and Collins 1991, Grobman 1992, Walley 2003).
U.S. States and Canadian Provinces
Endemism: occurs (regularly, as a native taxon) in multiple nations
U.S. & Canada State/Province Distribution
CO, CT, IA, ID, IL, IN, KS, MA, MD, ME, MI, MN, MO, MT, ND, NE, NH, NJ, NM, NY, OH, PA, RI, SD, TX, UT, VA, VT, WI, WV, WY
MB, NB, NS, ON, PE, QC, SK
Note: Range depicted for New World only. The scale of the maps may cause narrow coastal ranges or ranges on small islands not to appear. Not all vagrant or small disjunct occurrences are depicted. For migratory birds, some individuals occur outside of the passage migrant range depicted.
Range Map Compilers: NatureServe, 2005
U.S. Distribution by County
||County Name (FIPS Code)
New Haven (09009)*,
New London (09011),
Black Hawk (19013),
Cerro Gordo (19033),
Palo Alto (19147),
La Porte (18091)*,
St. Charles (29183)*,
St. Louis (29189)*
Keya Paha (31103),
Charles Mix (46023),
Salt Lake (49035),
San Juan (49037)*,
* Extirpated/possibly extirpated
U.S. Distribution by Watershed
||Watershed Name (Watershed Code)
Piscataqua-Salmon Falls (01060003)+,
Upper Connecticut (01080101)+,
Middle Connecticut (01080201)+,
Lower Connecticut (01080205)+,
Upper West Branch Susquehanna (02050201)+,
Little Calumet-Galien (04040001)+,
Mettawee River (04150401)+
Upper Allegheny (05010001)+,
Middle Allegheny-Tionesta (05010003)+,
Middle Allegheny-Redbank (05010006)+,
Upper Scioto (05060001)+,
Middle Wabash-Little Vermilion (05120108)+,
Middle Wabash-Busseron (05120111)+*,
Lower Wabash (05120113)+*,
Lower White (05120202)+*,
Lower East Fork White (05120208)+
Upper Minnesota (07020001)+,
Upper Iowa (07060002)+,
Upper Wapsipinicon (07080102)+,
South Skunk (07080105)+,
North Skunk (07080106)+,
Upper Cedar (07080201)+,
Shell Rock (07080202)+,
West Fork Cedar (07080204)+,
Middle Cedar (07080205)+,
Lower Cedar (07080206)+,
Upper Iowa (07080207)+,
Middle Iowa (07080208)+,
Lower Iowa (07080209)+,
Upper Des Moines (07100002)+,
East Fork Des Moines (07100003)+,
Middle Des Moines (07100004)+,
North Raccoon (07100006)+,
South Raccoon (07100007)+,
Lake Red Rock (07100008)+,
Lower Des Moines (07100009)+,
Bois De Sioux (09020101)+,
Western Wild Rice (09020105)+
Big Muddy (10060006)+,
Brush Lake closed basin (10060007)+,
Middle Cheyenne-Spring (10120109)+,
Middle Cheyenne-Elk (10120111)+,
Lower Belle Fourche (10120202)+,
Lower Lake Oahe (10130105)+,
West Missouri Coteau (10130106)+,
Fort Randall Reservoir (10140101)+,
Middle Niobrara (10150004)+,
Upper James (10160003)+,
Lewis and Clark Lake (10170101)+,
Middle Big Sioux Coteau (10170201)+,
Lower North Platte (10180014)+*,
Lower South Platte (10190018)+,
Middle Platte-Buffalo (10200101)+,
Middle Platte-Prairie (10200103)+,
Lower Middle Loup (10210003)+,
Lower Elkhorn (10220003)+*,
Little Sioux (10230003)+,
Monona-Harrison Ditch (10230004)+,
Keg-Weeping Water (10240001)+,
East Nishnabotna (10240003)+,
West Nodaway (10240009)+,
One Hundred and Two (10240013)+,
Upper Little Blue (10270206)+,
Upper Grand (10280101)+*,
Lower Marais Des Cygnes (10290102)+*,
South Grand (10290108)+*,
Lower Missouri-Crooked (10300101)+*,
Lower Missouri (10300200)+*
East Galveston Bay (12040202)+*,
West Galveston Bay (12040204)+*,
Lower Brazos (12070104)+*,
San Bernard (12090401)+*
Upper Dolores (14030002)+*,
Lower Dolores (14030004)+*,
Upper Colorado-Kane Springs (14030005)+*,
Upper Lake Powell (14070001)+*,
Lower San Juan-Four Corners (14080201)+*
Upper Weber (16020101)+,
Lower Weber (16020102)+,
Utah Lake (16020201)+*,
Spanish Fork (16020202)+,
+ Natural heritage record(s) exist for this watershed
* Extirpated/possibly extirpated
Ecology & Life History
General Description: A small-medium, slender, bright green snake with smooth dorsal scales (15 rows at mid-body), and a white or yellowish venter; each nostril is centered in a single scale; anal scale is divided; in some regions, occasional individuals are tan, and in Texas the color may be light brown with an olive wash instead of green; young are dark olive gray above, hatchlings are gray to brown above; adults turn blue or gray after death; total length usually 30-51 cm, up to 61 cm; hatchlings are about 8-17 cm long (Stebbins 1985, Conant and Collins 1991).
Diagnostic Characteristics: Differs from COLUBER CONSTRICTOR in smaller size, in having the nostril centered in a single scale rather than placed between two scales, and in having a single anterior temporal scale on each side rather than two. Differs from OPHEODRYS AESTIVUS in having smooth rather than keeled dorsal scales. Differs from SENTICOLIS TRIASPIS (green rat snake) in having fewer dorsal scale rows (15 at mid-body vs. 25 or more) and in lacking keels on any of the dorsal scales.
Reproduction Comments: Eggs are laid usually during the first three weeks of August in northern Michigan, mainly late June to late July in the Chicago area, Illinois. Clutch size is 3-18 (generally 4-9). Eggs hatch in a few to about 30 days, early August to early September in northern Michigan, mostly early to mid-August in Chicago. Probably sexually mature in about two years. Copulation has been recorded in August in Ontario. Sometimes nests communally (Fitch 1970; Herp. Rev. 20:84).
Ecology Comments: May aggregate in hibernacula; groups of between 100-150 have been found in Manitoba and Minnesota.
Locally Migrant: N
Long Distance Migrant: N
Mobility and Migration Comments: May migrate between winter hibernaculum and summer range in some areas (Vogt 1981).
Palustrine Habitat(s): Bog/fen, HERBACEOUS WETLAND, Riparian, SCRUB-SHRUB WETLAND
Terrestrial Habitat(s): Grassland/herbaceous, Old field, Savanna, Shrubland/chaparral, Suburban/orchard, Woodland - Conifer, Woodland - Hardwood, Woodland - Mixed
Special Habitat Factors: Burrowing in or using soil, Fallen log/debris
Habitat Comments: Habitats include meadows, grassy marshes, moist grassy fields at forest edges, mountain shrublands, stream borders, bogs, open moist woodland, abandoned farmland, and vacant lots. This snake has been found hibernating in abandoned ant mounds.
Eggs are laid under rotting wood, underground, or under rocks.
Adult Food Habits: Invertivore
Immature Food Habits: Invertivore
Food Comments: Primary diet is small terrestrial invertebrates (caterpillars, crickets, grasshoppers, spiders, etc.).
Adult Phenology: Diurnal, Hibernates/aestivates
Immature Phenology: Diurnal, Hibernates/aestivates
Phenology Comments: Generally inactive from November to March. Primarily diurnal but has been found crossing roads at night during warm summer and fall rains (Vogt 1981).
Length: 66 centimeters
Not yet assessed
Not yet assessed
Group Name: Small Colubrid Snakes
Use Class: Not applicable
Minimum Criteria for an Occurrence: Occurrences are based on evidence of historical presence, or current and likely recurring presence, at a given location. Such evidence minimally includes collection or reliable observation and documentation of one or more individuals (including eggs) in or near appropriate habitat where the species is presumed to be established and breeding.
Separation Barriers: Busy highway or highway with obstructions such that snakes rarely if ever cross successfully; major river, lake, pond, or deep marsh (this barrier does not apply to aquatic or wetland species); densely urbanized area dominated by buildings and pavement.
Separation Distance for Unsuitable Habitat: 1 km
Separation Distance for Suitable Habitat: 5 km
Separation Justification: Data are limited to only a few species, but small colubrid snakes such as Diadophis punctatus (Fitch 1975) and Carphophis amoenus (Barbour et al. 1969, Clark 1970) generally have relatively small home ranges less than, or much less than, 1 ha. However, because even small snakes occasionally move large distances (e.g., up to at least 1.7 km in Diadophis punctatus, Fitch 1975). Also, these snakes tend to be secretive and may be easily overlooked or not recorded in areas where they do in fact occur. It seems unlikely that occupied locations separated by a gap of less than several kilometers of suitable habitat would represent independent occurrences over the long term.
Inferred Minimum Extent of Habitat Use (when actual extent is unknown): .2 km
Author: Hammerson, G.
Notes: This specs group is a somewhat arbitrary assemblage of small snakes that are believed to be among the most sedentary species of the family Colubridae.
U.S. Invasive Species Impact Rank (I-Rank)
Not yet assessed
NatureServe Conservation Status Factors Edition Date: 09Dec2005
NatureServe Conservation Status Factors Author: Hammerson, G.
Element Ecology & Life History Edition Date: 28Apr1995
Element Ecology & Life History Author(s): Hammerson, G.
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