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6 Types of Green Snakes (Pictures & Facts)

Green snakes live in environments around the world. What limits their range is the color of vegetation. Where there are green plants, there are probably green snakes. In this article, we’ll take a look at 6 types of green snake. These snakes range in color from bright green to dark olive. Each shade of green helps them adapt to their environment.

Collage photo of green snakes

6 Types of Green Snakes

This list features six North American green snakes, including their physical characteristics, geographic range, and other interesting facts about these fascinating reptiles. We included some photos and info on where you might spot them in the wild.

1. Smooth Green Snake

Smooth green snake
Smooth green snake | image by Peter Paplanus via Flickr | CC BY-SA 2.0

Scientific name: Opheodrys vernalis 

If you live in North America and spot a green snake, it’s probably a smooth green snake or its close relative, the rough green snake. Its back and sides are a medium hued leafy green color, while its belly is light yellow or white.

It reaches a maximum length of 26 inches. The average smooth green snake is between 14 and 20 inches long.

They camouflage themselves into vegetation by waving their heads back and forth, as if to imitate grass stalks waving in the breeze. It eats ants, caterpillars, slugs, and worms.

It lives in the northeastern United States, the northern Great Plains and forests, and part of the Rocky Mountains in the Four Corners Region. Southern Canada is also home to the smooth green snake.

2. Rough Green Snake

Rough green snake
Rough green snake | Photo by Peter Paplanus via Flickr | CC BY 2.0

Scientific name: Opheodrys aestivus 

Rough green snakes are docile and easy to handle snakes. They are arboreal, meaning they live most of their lives high in the trees. They coil around branches and tree trunks in a search for spiders and insects.

Forests and areas with thick vegetation are their favorite habitat zones. The more leaves and places to hide, the better! Some scientists believe this species is at risk because of deforestation from human development and logging for timber.

Tell them apart from smooth green snakes according to the texture of their skin. The rough green snake’s scales are rough because they are keeled.

3. Green Rat Snake

Red-tailed green rat snake
Red-tailed green rat snake | image by Bjørn Christian Tørrissen via Wikimedia Commons | CC BY 2.0

Scientific name: Gonyosoma oxycephalum

Look for the Green rat snake outside of the United States. This exotic snake lives in the jungles of Southeast Asia and Indonesia. It spends most of its life high in the trees.

Birds, bats, and lizards are what the green rat snake eats. Its reflexes are so quick that it catches birds out of midair. Despite its name, mice and rats rarely make it on the menu.

Green rat snakes are large but slender snakes that reach a maximum length of 70 inches. Thanks to their ability to coil around branches and vines, they’re adept climbers too.

4. Mississippi Green Water Snake

Mississippi Green Water Snake
Mississippi Green Water Snake | Greg Schechter | Flickr | CC BY 2.0

Scientific name: Nerodia cyclopion

The Mississippi green water snake is well-adapted to life in the water. It holds its breath while swimming after fish in ponds and streams.

Its green-tinged scales helps it blend in with algae and trees’ reflections in the water. It even has a flat head so it can pretend to be a stick floating on the water’s surface.

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This snake averages about 2 to 4 feet long. Most specimens are on the shorter side. Along with fish, it eats crawfish, frogs, and salamanders. They aren’t venomous, so they kill their prey with brute bite force.

5. Eastern Garter Snake

Eastern garter snake
Eastern garter snake | image by Peter Paplanus via Flickr | CC BY-SA 2.0

Scientific name: Thamnophis sirtalis sirtalis

Eastern garter snakes are commonly spotted throughout the southeastern United States. They like to live in backyards and they adapt well to human development.

It’s not a threat to humans since it would rather slither away than bite. It eats earthworms, small rodents, and frogs. Some eat fish too.

This snake’s body has a wide range of colors, one of which is olive green. Their coloration depends a lot on where they live; they survive by blending into foliage.

6. Mojave Green Rattlesnake

Mojave green rattlesnake
Mojave green rattlesnake | image by David~O via Flickr | CC BY 2.0

Scientific name: Crotalus scutulatus

This southwest native is the greenest rattlesnake in the United States. Its scales are olive-colored, which is a big contrast with the usual tan or brown color of most rattlesnakes. It has the rattlesnake-characteristic diamond pattern on its back too.

Mojave green rattlesnakes are the most venomous rattlesnake on earth. A bite is life-threatening to humans.

Many live in high-altitude desert, but some inhabit southeast Oregon and even Death Valley. This snake eats mice, rats, and lizards. They are very aggressive when approached.