Smooth Green Snake


Scientific Name: Opheodrys vernalis
Size: 11.8 – 26” (adult total length)
Status: Rare and declining throughout range.
Michigan State Status: Species of Special Concern and Species of Greatest Conservation Need; Have experienced severe declines in many areas.



Prefers moist grassy areas including prairies and savannas, meadows, old fields, pastures, roadsides, and marsh and lake edges. Also occur in open deciduous or pine forests and along woodland borders.

Adult Coloration:

Entirely bright green on upper surfaces with white or pale yellow below and yellowish or white labial (lip) scales, chin, and throat. Occasionally may be light brown, tan, or bronze instead of green.

Adult Characteristics:

Small slender snake with head only slightly wider than neck, unkeeled scales, and divided anal plate. Males smaller than females with relatively longer tails.

Juvenile Characteristics:

Newborns range from 3.25 – 6.5” in length. Babies and small juveniles duller than adults, and are usually olive green, brownish, or bluish gray.

Scale Count:

15 scale rows at midbody

Species Confused With:

Only bright green snake in Michigan. Color fades to pale blue or gray after death, which may lead to confusion between this species and the Blue Racer, however a small Blue Racer would retain juvenile pattern. Green Snakes that are browner in coloration can be distinguished by unkeeled scales and uniformity of coloration.


  • Amphibians and Reptiles of the Great Lakes Region by Jim Harding
  • Harding, J.H. and J.A. Holman. 2006. Michigan Snakes. MSU Extension Ext. Bulletin E-2000,74 pp. [revised].
  • Ruthven, A. G., H. B. T. Gaige, et al. 1912. The herpetology of Michigan, by Alexander B. Ruthven. Crystal Thompson and Helen Thompson; Memoranda towards a bibliography of the archaeology of Michigan, by Harlan I. Smith; prepared under the direction of Alexander G. Ruthven. Lansing, Mich., Wynkoop Hallenbeck Crawford, State Printers.
  • Holman, J. A. 2012. The Amphibians and Reptiles of Michigan: A Quaternary and Recent Faunal Adventure. Detroit, Mich., Wayne State University Press.
  • Conant, R., and Collins, J. T. 1998. Reptiles and Amphibians: Eastern, Central North America. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Press.