This is the second post in a series on snakes. Whenever we put something out on Facebook about snakes we get so many comments and questions! Houston Zoo guests and friends out there seem really interested, so Judith Bryja, our Herpetology Supervisor, agreed to write up this wonderful series. Check back on the blog regularly to read them all. And put any comments or questions you may have below!

The earth snake (Virginia striatula) is a very small harmless snake found in Houston. 

 Uniform in color, they vary between olive brown, reddish brown and dark grey. 

Often mistaken for baby snakes, adults reach a length of only 7-10 inches and are no bigger around than a pencil.  The head is barely wider than the body and the snout is mildly pointed.  Below is an actual baby earth snake, so you can get an idea of how tiny those really are!

A baby earth snake, sitting on a quarter for reference

They live in the eastern half of Texas in most kinds of habitat, including metropolitan areas, as long as they can find adequate shelter on the ground. 

When disturbed, they will stay still or attempt to get away.  They are primarily nocturnal but sometimes venture out in the early morning or evening.   Diet consists of various insects, earthworms, slugs, and small skinks (lizards). 2-8 babies are born in late summer or fall and are about 3 inches long.  They are often preyed upon by coral snakes.

Written by Judith Bryja, Herpetology Department Supervisor

Photos by Charlie Mann

6 Responses to “Earth Snakes…. Are You a Fan?”

  1. Shirley Lloyd says:

    I reached this page after searching for “skinks”…not snakes! I have 3 Soloman Island skinks…wondered if you have any……

  2. cody cordova says:

    I seen a snake near the houston airport that was crossing a canal and it wasnt small it was at least three feet longer than the canal and had a head like my fist

  3. shanna says:

    I live in north Texas and today I found a very small dark grey snake on my sidewalk when I was taking my dog outside. It was about 3 or 4 inches long. At first I wasn’t sure if it was a snake or a worm. I started researching and it brought me to this page. I was hoping to post a picture of it. I’m deathly afraid of snakes but being that it was so small I didn’t know what to do with it. So for now it’s still outside the house and I am not!!

  4. ycastro says:

    I found this snake in my house I sweped it out of the house why would it come in the house

  5. Kimberly Martin says:

    Each of my 2 cats just brought one of these snakes into my living room. They are playing with them like cat toys. Thank you for posting these pics so I can relax.

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