Worm Snake: How to Identify Them? Where to Find them? Can They Swim?

30-second summary:

Primarily Found in – South Carolina, Northern Virginia, Southeastern New York, and the Eastern United States at large

Record Length – Up to 25 centimeters

Worm Snakes as Pets – They are very shy, which makes them good pets, especially for beginners

Conservation Status – Endangered

Can they see? – No, they are blind

Worm snake found in my farm
Worm snake found in my farm
Common NameWorm Snake
Scientific NameCarphophis amoenus
SizeUp to 13 inches
HabitatUnderground, or beneath logs, rocks, leaf litter, or other debris
Breeding SeasonFall and Spring
EggsUp to 12 eggs at every fertilization
Known PredatorsVariety of Birds, Mammals, and Other Snakes

Worm snakes are considered to be quite harmless and rather friendly for agricultural purposes. On the contrary, snakes often turn out to be venomous and harmful.

What if we say that worm snakes do exist?

Yes, you heard it right! Worm snakes are basically harmless in nature. They look like worms and burrow into the soil. Worm snakes generally look brownish or blackish in color with a pinkish tint on the body. And they tend to be small in size and grow up to a total length of about 25 centimeters.

They belong to the Colubrid snake family and are, of course, reptiles.

Worm snakes or Blind snakes?

Worm snake AKA the blind snake closeup view

Well, the worm snake either has extremely tiny eyes or totally non-functioning eyes. Hence, it is also referred to as blind snake.

The eyes actually get smaller in size during fetus development. So, when they finally hatch out of the eggs, their visibility gets reduced to zero.

Type of Worm Snakes

Worm snakes can be classified under two subspecies –

  • Eastern worm snake (Carphophis amoenus)
  • Western worm snake (Carphophis vermis)

The eastern worm snakes are found in the eastern US, especially in the area between Southern New England and Central Georgia. On the other hand, the western worm snakes are found in the west of the Mississippi River.

Elaborate Physical Description of a Worm Snake

The younger worm snakes tend to look darker in color as compared to the adults who exhibit a pale complexion. Another thing worth noticing is that a worm snake has exactly 4 scales – one between the eyes, one between the nostrils, and two on the head. Because of the smoothness of the scales, they tend to have a glossy appearance.

You will generally find it a bit difficult to identify the head from the rest of the body due to the uniform coloration. Know that it has a blunt shape and looks slightly tapered. The eyes will look quite small and completely black in hue. It has a sharp tail which helps the worm snake in burrowing deeper inside the soil.

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Also read: All you need to know about Dekay’s Brown Snake

Natural Habitat of Worm Snakes

natural habitat of worm snake
Natural habitat of Worm snake

As is the case with common snakes, you will find worm snakes in deciduous woodlands. Near coastal plains, you can come across these snakes amidst the wetlands and cypress swamps. They are fossorial snakes, and hence, one can find them hiding under the rocks, burrowing inside loose soils, rotting logs, amidst leaf litter, and so on.

What do they eat?

Worm snakes prefer living undergrounds. So, they feed primarily on slugs, earthworms, and snails.

How Can You Identify Them?

Worm snakes have shiny scales. Also, they have highly pointed tail tips. The dorsum is generally dark brown or blackish. Towards the belly, the color tends to be pinkish or whitish. Also, worm snakes are quite small in size. Thus, you can easily identify any one of these worm snakes.

Are They Venomous?

Warm snake

No, not at all! Worm snakes are absolutely harmless, just like earthworms. They do not carry venom, and thus it is absolutely safe to pet a worm snake. Yes, people actually prefer worm snakes as their pets. Snake lovers and first-time pet owners find snake worms to be a good option.

All one is required to do is to keep these snakes in a soil-filled terrarium. You can also add some mud to it. The mixture of soil and mud serves as a comfortable hiding place for the worm snakes. You can get a ten-gallon terrarium for petting worm snakes. Make sure you offer them ample food, such as insects, earthworms, snails, etc.

Are They Able to Swim?

Nope, they dig deep under the soil and are not able to swim.

Threats to Worm Snakes

Lizards, bigger snakes, birds of prey, small mammals like foxes, cats, skunks often feed on worm snakes.

Worm snakes – Are they endangered or not?

Yes. The IUCN -International Union for Conservation of Nature has categorized worm snakes as endangered species. In Georgia, these snakes are protected legally.

Blind Snake or Worm Snake? Let’s hear it from Jack

Lifecycle and Breeding of Worm Snakes

Generally, their mating takes place in the months of May and June. During this time, the worm snakes are often seen in pairs. One can even witness the eggs through the translucent belly of the female snake. They lay the eggs around the middle of July. Generally, at one go, a female worm snake lays around 8 to 12 eggs near a rotten log or under the rock. The baby snakes or hatchlings come out of the eggs during August and September.

A baby snake takes around 3 years to get matured completely. And they live for a total of 4 to 5 years on average.

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General Behaviour of Worm Snakes

Worm snakes require moisture. So, they go deep inside the soil to get a little bit of moisture in the dry seasons. During this season, they come out of the soil at night so that water loss from the body is minimal. Also, during this time, catching the prey gets a tad bit easier for these snakes.

They go into hibernation during the winter season. On the other hand, wet seasons are their favorite, and you can witness them roaming around during the monsoons near swamps and marshlands.

In case they feel threatened, worm snakes generally do not retaliate. They prefer running away and avoiding the situation altogether. During some instances, experts suggest that these snakes release bad odor from their anal glands.

Worm Snake Riddance from Your Home or Garden

Worm snakes can very easily infest your lawn, garden, or backyard as they lay almost 12 eggs at a time. Although these snakes are pretty harmless, we are sure you will not want these reptiles to crawl around your pets or infants. It is, therefore, necessary that you keep the worm snakes out of your premises.

Well, since these are not insects or pests, using pesticides or insecticides will not be of many benefits. You should therefore try to pick them up gently, in a bag, and then release them in the forest. While picking them up, you can wear gloves to maintain hygiene. Since they are not venomous, picking and carrying the worm snakes is not at all dangerous.

Wrapping Up

Next time you see a group of worms in your backyard, try to identify whether those are actually worms or worm snakes. Hope this blog helps you in identifying and knowing further about worm snakes in detail.

Frequently Asked Questions About Worm Snakes

What is the Mode of Communication That They Use?

Just like any other animals and reptiles, worm snakes, too, have their own system of communication. Experts suggest that these snakes use special body movements to communicate their ideas to their fellow partners.

How Fast are Worm Snakes?

The weight of an average worm snake is around 0.003 pounds only. So, one can expect them to move quite fast. On the contrary, these snakes move just about 45 meters in a time span of 24 hours!

In fact, worm snakes do not prefer moving and covering large distances. Their main focus is to dig deeper into the soil to look for earthworms, insects, and other substitutes.

However, if you try to hold any of these in your hands, it will get extremely wiggly. Possibilities are that it will press its sharp tail against your hand and try to slip between the fingers. Actually, worm snakes are considered to be quite shy in nature, and thus they do not prefer much exposure.


James Ardimento has spent the last 12 years journeying around the globe ! With its precious experiences and tips he gained around Asia, South America, Europe and the US he is a precious asset for this blog and for its readers