Opheodrys is a genus of small to medium-sized non-venomous colubrid snakes commonly referred to as green snakes. In North America the genus consists of two distinct species. As their common names imply, the rough green snake has keeled dorsal scales, whereas the smooth green snake has smooth dorsal scales.

Opheodrys aestivusPCCP20030524-0823B.jpg
Opheodrys aestivus
Scientific classification e
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Reptilia
Order: Squamata
Suborder: Serpentes
Family: Colubridae
Subfamily: Colubrinae
Genus: Opheodrys
Fitzinger, 1843

Chlorosoma, Phyllophilophis,[1] Liochlorophis


Valid speciesEdit

The following two species are recognized as being valid.[2]

Nota bene: A binomial authority in parentheses indicates that the species was originally described in a genus other than Opheodrys.

Species removed from the genusEdit

The genus Opheodrys at one time included two Asian species: O. herminae, which is endemic to Japan, and O. major, which is endemic to Central/South China, Taiwan, N. Vietnam, and Laos. These were removed from the genus by Cundall in 1981[3]

Subspecies no longer recognizedEdit

The following subspecies of Opheodrys are no longer recognized by ITIS:[2]

Geographic rangeEdit

Green snakes of the genus Opheodrys are found in the United States, southern Canada, and northern Mexico.[5]


Green snakes are so named because they are typically solid green in color dorsally, with a cream-colored or yellow underside. They are thin-bodied snakes that rarely exceed 90 cm (around 36 inches) in length.[6] They have large eyes and blunt shaped heads.


Green snakes are often found in dense, low lying vegetation near a permanent water source.[7]


Green snakes have been known to follow human activity. They rely on their color for camouflage and will usually attempt to escape if threatened.


Their primary diet is soft-bodied arthropods, including crickets, spiders, moths, butterflies, and grasshoppers.[7]


Green snakes of the genus Opheodrys are oviparous.[8]


  1. ^ Wright AH, Wright AA (1957). Handbook of Snakes of the United States and Canada. Ithaca and London: Comstock. 1,105 pp. (in 2 volumes). (Genus Opheodrys, pp. 551-564, Figures 164-166, Map 43).
  2. ^ a b "Opheodrys. ITIS (Integrated Taxonomic Information System)".
  3. ^ "CNAH". Archived from the original on 2003-09-27.
  4. ^ "Cyclophiops ". The Reptile Database. www.reptile-database.org.
  5. ^ Smith HM, Brodie ED Jr (1982). Reptiles of North America: A Guide to Field Identification. New York: Golden Press. 240 pp. ISBN 0-307-13666-3. (Opheodrys, pp. 188-189).
  6. ^ Conant R (1975). A Field Guide to Reptiles and Amphibians of Eastern and Central North America, Second Edition. Boston: Houghton Mifflin. xviii + 429 pp. + Plates 1-42. ISBN 0-395-19979-4 (hardcover), ISBN 0-395-19977-8 (paperback). (Opheodrys, pp. 184-186 + Plate 25 + Maps 134-135).
  7. ^ a b Behler JL, King FW (1979). The Audubon Society Field Guide to North American Reptiles and Amphibians. New York: Alfred A. Knopf. 743 pp. ISBN 0-394-50824-6. (Opheodrys, pp. 639-641+ Plates 475-477).
  8. ^ Schmidt KP, Davis DD (1941). Field Book of Snakes of the United States and Canada. New York: G.P. Putnam's Sons. 365 pp. (Opheodrys, pp. 118-121, Figures 27-28 + Plate 12 on p. 332).

Further readingEdit

  • Fitzinger L (1843). Systema Reptilium, Fasciculus Primus, Amblyglossae. Vienna: Braumüller & Seidel. 106 pp. + indices. (Opheodrys, new genus, p. 26). (in Latin).

External linksEdit