Rough Earth Snake
The rough earth snake is not found on the Mississippi River Valley, and southwestern Georgia. Being one of many snakes found on Florida, they are absent from peninsular Florida.
Even though there are some records coming from Piedmont, they are very rarely found in that region.
The rough earth snake is found in a variety of forested habitats granted they have an abundant ground cover, some moisture, and exposure to sunlight. The higher concentrations of these little snakes are found in dry coastal plain woodlands.
But these snakes are also found on exposed, rocky, wooded hillsides as well as in heavily wooded uplands and valleys, limestone and sandstone cedar glades, pastures, swamp borders, mesic woodland and grassland, and wooded margins of streams.
They are also very often found in urban areas where the species attains very high densities, occupying flowerbeds around homes, urban gardens and parks, and vacant lots.
The rough earth snake is a small and fairly slender snake, ranging from 7 to 12 inches (18 to 30 cm) in total length. Males are a little shorter and lighter than females but have relatively longer tails. Usually presenting a divided anal plate.
Their back color varies from a reddish brown to brown, or gray with essentially no pattern visible. The belly is lighter colored ranging from a cream, yellowish to a whitish color, and is not sharply defined from the back color like in the red-bellied snake (Storeria occipitomaculata).
Young individuals are generally darker than adults, and often display a light band on the neck, which usually fades or disappears as they mature. The rough earth snake has a small head and small eyes with round pupils, and also a pointed snout, which helps them burrow in the soil.
This species is characterized by their “rough” or keeled scales, which helps differentiates them from their close relative the smooth earth snake (Virginia valeriae).
The rough earth snake is a semi-fossorial snake, meaning it's typically very secretive and lives mostly underground. They will hide beneath rotting logs or stumps, in leaf litter, loose bark, sun-warmed rocks, or ornamental stones in gardens, compost piles, trash or under other objects.
These small snakes are known by several common names such as little striped snake, southern ground snake, small-eyed brown snake, brown ground snake, little brown snake, and ground snake.
Some common names even suggest these are venomous snakes (which they aren't) like the small brown viper or striated viper. Other names are also commonly used to describe other species including brown snake (see Storeria dekayi), and worm snake.
Subspecies / Taxonomy
Scientists don't recognize any subspecies of the rough earth snake. This snake was first described as Coluber striatulus, by Carl Linnaeus in back in 1766.
But over time the rough earth snake's scientific name was changed several times. Until recently the species was described as Virginia striatulus, but in 2013 the species generic name was changed back to Haldea.
Diet / Feeding
The rough earth snake eats invertebrates, feeding almost exclusively on earthworms.
But sometimes they will eat soft-bodied insects, sow bugs, snails, slugs, insect eggs, and larvae or even small frogs since they have been found in some specimens stomach.
They aren't venomous but don't constrict their small prey rather swallowing it whole without subduing it. Their pointed snout helps them burrowing in the moist soil of their habitat where prey is found.
The rough earth snake typically mates in spring or early summer and this species is viviparous meaning females give birth to live young.
Usually, 3 to 11 younglings are born in mid or late summer (July or August). At birth, the newborns are about 4 inches (10 cm) long.
They are usually darker than the adults, with a light-colored neckband somewhat resembling the ring-necked snake (Diadophis punctatus).
Conservation / Threats
The rough earth snake is listed as Least Concern species on the IUCN red list since no major threats are known to affect the species.
This results from their wide range and presumed large population (more than 100 000), tolerance of habitat modification to some degree thriving in many urban areas.
Did You Know?
Because of the "Mojave toxin" the Mojave rattlesnake venom is considered the most toxic of any rattlesnake species.