|REPTILES OF THE METRO AREA
Eastern Worm Snake (Carphophis amoenus amoenus)
This is a common and widespread non-venomous snake. Worm Snakes are small, rather nondescript
snakes. The snake's back is essentially unmarked, plain brown, the scales are smooth. The underside has
a pink hue and is also plain and unmarked. A very large adult might reach a foot in length, but most are
several inches smaller. The tail has a sharp spine, which looks somewhat scary but is actually quite
harmless. These animals are often overlooked because of their resemblance to worms.
Worm snakes probably spend most of their time underground or at least buried in leaf litter. They are often
found while raking leaves and can also be found under or inside logs and stumps, or under rocks, bark,
sheet metal or other debris. These snakes prefer forested areas. They eat earthworms and probably some
insects. They almost never try to bite when handled, and the small teeth are not likely to puncture the skin
if they did bite.
This snake pictured below was found under leaves near Berkeley Springs, West Virginia.
The head of the Worm Snake appears small for the size of the body.
Worm Snakes can be kept in captivity for short periods of time on a diet of earthworms. Snakes should not be exposed to
any exotic pets if they are to be released into the wild again. Diseases carried by exotic pets might be unfamiliar to native
reptiles and could wreak havoc on wild populations.
Although these snakes are reportedly common in the Baltimore-Washington area, habitat destruction is reducing the
available habitat for them. Additional pressure on wild populations may come from pesticides and other chemical
contamination. Research suggests that many reptiles, amphibians, fish, and other wildlife are affected by estrogenic,
carcinogenic, and teratogenic effects of chemicals that are being released in increasing amounts into their environment.
The increasing use of lawn chemicals, herbicides, and other pesticides is alarming for the potential impact on reptiles and
other animals such as the worm snake, which is often found living in close proximity to humans, in yards and parks where
exposure to these chemicals is likely.
The underside of the Worm Snake is plain and pinkish in color. The sharp spine at the tip of the tail
can also be seen in these pictures. They often try to stab the hand with the tail spine when captured,
but this is quite ineffective and not at all painful.
Worm Snakes often hide their head under their body when they feel threatened. Since these animals are not well
equipped it defend themselves, this behavior might help protect his head from an attacking predator.