There it was, draped amongst blades of tall, green grass, almost perfectly camouflaged by the matching spring colors. It was a lovely, petite Opheodrys aestivus — more commonly referred to as a small Green Grass snake or a Rough Green snake. So what would make it rough? It seemed smooth enough, but there is a distinction that a fastidious herpetologist would make; a subtle keel on the snake’s individual scales that helps differentiate it from the smaller, less common smooth grass snake.
This particular snake struck a perfect pose of simplicity, all tail and mouth, fine, distinctive scales and a Mona Lisa smile. It was almost too perfectly camouflaged for it was about to get whacked into several perfect pieces with a weed-whacker. Fortunately, it was spotted just in time and perhaps because it was still sluggish from hibernation or because this species of snake is a fairly mild-mannered type, this individual readily allowed itself to be picked up for relocation.
These beautiful jungle-green snakes love to climb around low-level vegetation and hunt. They may be pacifists around humans but they are absolute killers to any creature they can swallow — whole and alive. This includes insects, spiders, snails, centipedes, doodle bugs, even small frogs. Though they are a smallish snake, common across the southeastern U.S., specimens almost four feet long have been found. This indicates what might happen if they aren’t first consumed by a bird, a larger snake or a weed whacker.
As a predator, the Green Grass snake uses its coloration for good camouflage to let it move slowly and deliberately through the vegetation whilst on the hunt. Unfortunately, this doesn’t help prevent them from being victims of the pet trade. Thousands are easily enough snatched up from favorite hunting grounds and shipped to pet shops where, by virtue of their mild-mannered nature, they do their part to make an agreeable pet but are susceptible to rough treatment that can fatally harm them. Perhaps the only good result of these sad circumstances is, in a perversion of their beauty, they unintentionally reward the negligent pet owner by turning an unusually lovely turquoise blue when they commit this final act.