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A Guide About the Eastern Worm Snake

Although the term “worm snake” is an umbrella term used to describe any small snake with low-use or unworking eyes, there is an actual species of snake called the Eastern worm snake. This species is typically found in the Eastern part of the United States, although it can be found as far centrally as the Mississippi River and as far south as Alabama. If you’ve seen what you believe to be an Eastern worm snake on your property, then you may be wondering whether you should do anything to prevent this creature from entering your yard. In reality, this is a harmless reptile and you shouldn’t be concerned at all! Keep reading to get a better idea of what this snake is like and why it isn’t such a bad creature to have around.

Appearance and Behavior

The Eastern worm snake acquired its nickname as a result of its appearance; that is, it genuinely does closely resemble a worm! Although there is a rumor that this critter is actually a legless lizard, the truth is that it is definitely a member of the snake family. This type of snake typically doesn’t grow larger than 13 inches in length, with the adults of this species averaging around eight to ten inches. Like other snakes, this one has scales that come in various shades ranging from muddy-pink to brown, to grey. Similar to the shape of a worm, this snake’s head is generally the same width as its body with only slight narrowing at the tip of its head. Going down the body, the snake’s tail narrows to a uniquely pointed tip, for which it puts to good use when burrowing through the ground.

Unlike most snakes, this variety actually spends a great deal of time tunneling around underground. In fact, it spends so much time underground that they usually go unnoticed by humans and other animals. They are most active during the dark hours, generally between late evening and early morning. In the warmer areas, this snake species can remain active all but one month out of the year while in cooler climates, such as in the northern parts of the United States, this snake will usually go through two shorter periods of activity—one during the warm spring months and one during the autumn season. This species generally keeps to itself and, as most of its time is spent either burrowing through or remaining dormant in the ground, it is not usually considered to be a pest.

Diet and Predators

Because this species does a lot of burrowing through the ground, it makes sense that its diet would largely consist of creatures that also dwell in the ground. This snake sticks to eating invertebrates, primarily earthworms. It will also eat grubs and larvae of other insects. This little guy won’t pose a threat to pets, children, or other animals that might stumble across this snake’s home. It does, however, have a lot of predators that would be happy to snatch it up as soon as it pops its head out of the ground. For the Eastern worm snake, potential predators include birds, possums, raccoons, and even other snakes. Although humans rarely come across this species, we can also be responsible for contributing to population declines in certain areas—usually through destroying its habitat, spraying pesticide around their homes, or by simply killing the snakes on site out of fear. When the snakes feel threatened they can actually release a very bad smelling liquid through a vent in their body. This liquid is harmless to humans, as are the snakes themselves. They are quite mild mannered and rarely even bite humans. When a bite does occur, it probably won’t even break one’s skin.

Habitat

This species can be found living in a range of habitats but it tends to prefer areas that offer moist soil that is easy to burrow through. Also, areas that have a lot of trees to offer an overhead canopy and protection from excess heat and predators would be attractive for this type of snake. Leaves, debris, rotting logs, and large rocks are also excellent places to find this little guy.

Population and Reproduction

There is little known about the reproductive habits regarding the worm snake, but it is estimated that the peak breeding period is probably in the spring, when this species is active. A neat fact about the females of this species is that when they carry their eggs, one can actually see the elongated shape of the eggs through the virtually transparent vent. The female will eventually lay her eggs in a protective area, such as under rocks or other debris where the eggs will be less likely to be found by predators. A few months after she lays her eggs, they will hatch and out will emerge little worm snakes that are dark in color. As far as studies have suggested, the female will usually stick close by until the eggs have hatched, but this isn’t a definite occurrence. Studies have also suggested that a larger percentage of hatchlings tend to be male.

Although this species is a snake, it certainly isn’t anything to be afraid of. This creature will keep to itself and poses absolutely not threat to you or your family.


 

 

 


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