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Smooth Green Snake

Smooth Green Snake

North Dakota Species of Conservation Priority I

Fact Sheet
Scientific Name Opheodrys vernalis
General Description L 12-22”. A fast moving and inconspicuous snake, it is bright green above and white to pale yellow below.
Status Year-round resident.
Abundance Uncommon.
Primary Habitat Grassland, upland hills.
Federal Status No federal status.
Reason for Designation Listed as Vulnerable in Manitoba and Saskatchewan, and Imperiled in Montana by NatureServe. It is also a species of concern in several other states.

Locations and Conditions of Key Habitat

Preferred Habitat

Smooth Green Snakes are found in grazed or ungrazed grassland, particularly the uplands of hills where grass is shorter. Moist meadows, native prairies, and occasionally woodland clearings are also used. It is rarely seen, other than in very short grass or perhaps crossing a road. Smooth Green Snakes hibernate in burrows, rock crevices, road embankments, and ant mounds. They are entirely insectivorous, feeding on grasshoppers, crickets and caterpillars.

Key Areas and Conditions for Smooth Green Snake in North Dakota

No specific sites have been identified.

Problems Which May Affect this Species


Destruction and/or degradation of grassland habitat.

Other Natural or Manmade Factors

It is unknown what effect pesticides, development, and other disturbance has on populations of Short-horned Lizards.

Research and Survey Efforts

Current Research or Surveys

  • North Dakota State University is currently surveying reptiles and amphibians in SE North Dakota.

Previous Research or Surveys

  • University of North Dakota studied Climate Change and Land use Effects on Small Mammal Communities in a Northern Great Plans Landscape. This work included herptile surveys.
  • Wheeler and Wheeler (1966) conducted a statewide survey of all amphibians and reptiles, as well as compiled existing records. The skinks were only found in the southeastern corner of the state.
  • The REAP program (1978) found few records of the Smooth Green Snake in the southwest.
  • Hoberg and Gause (1992) recorded personal observations of prairie skinks in North Dakota.
  • A compilation of all records in North Dakota by Jundt (2000) listed roughly 65 documentations of the Smooth Green Snake in the state.

Additional Research or Surveys Needed

Future recommended survey methods would include trapping for this species.

Management Recommendations

  • Maintain the open nature of habitat.
  • Protect wetlands within grasslands and control livestock access.
  • Avoid excessive grazing and off-road vehicle use.
  • Leave logs, snags, and other woody debris on site, and replace if removed.

Monitoring Plans

general public through the NDGFD incidental reporting system, or national monitoring initiatives such as PARC. Monitoring should be directed at several species.

2005-2015 Progress

The Smooth Green Snake maintains a level I Species of Conservation Priority. More information is needed to understand the status of this species in North Dakota. Work toward a monitoring plan is needed.

Range Map

Note: A listing of works consulted when compiling the information on this page may be found in the 2015 State Wildlife Action Plan.