Wild Profile: Meet the smooth green snake

A smooth green snake lying in leaf litter By Jason Patrick Ross/Shutterstock

One of our flashiest and perhaps friendliest snakes, the smooth green snake, will soon be slithering into winter dens below the frostline. Friendliest? Well, okay, maybe it’s more correct to say that they’re not picky roommates: they’re known for bunking down with other snakes, and even other reptiles, when the cold weather hits.

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You’ll often find these emerald-green snakes anywhere that there’s grass: meadows, lawns, and fields. They’re non-venomous and as skinny as a crayon, and they prey on invertebrate insects. They’ll hunt for them in leaf litter, and even climb vegetation and trees to get at caterpillars, spiders, and crickets.

These snakes are called “smooth” for a reason. Their dorsal plates feel silky and satin-like because they don’t have the ridged “keels” on their scales the way other snakes do. Can a green snake be blue? Yes: some hatchlings are born blue-grey, and some adults, when they die, turn blue. In death, the yellow pigment in their skin fades, and leaves only the blue colour behind.

If you’re seeing smooth green snakes on your property, be careful: using insecticides on garden pests such as slugs can poison the snakes second-hand. Keep your pet cats indoors, and if you have a lawn, watch where you’re mowing. Wanna help them during the cold season? Build them a winter hibernaculum.

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