Western Wormsnake

Carphophis vermis

western_wormsnake_1-2-15.jpg

Photo of a western wormsnake on a white background.
The western wormsnake is a small, two-toned snake that is usually purplish brown above and salmon pink on the belly and lower sides.
Jim Rathert
Other Common Name
Western Worm Snake
Family

Colubridae (nonvenomous snakes) in the order Squamata (lizards and snakes)

Description

A small, two-toned snake that is usually purplish brown above and salmon pink on the belly and lower sides. The head is flattened to aid in burrowing, and the tail terminates in an interesting (and harmless) spike that helps it maneuver through soil.

Size

Length: 7½ to 11 inches.

western_wormsnake_on_rock_1-2-15.jpg

Photo of a western wormsnake on a flat rock.
Western Wormsnake
The western wormsnake is never seen in the open; it hides under rocks, logs, or boards or burrows into damp soil or leaf litter.

23-06-2014.jpg

Western Wormsnake
Western Wormsnake

Western Wormsnake

snake winding through leaves on a plant
Western Wormsnake
Western Wormsnake spotted next to trail at Culp Park, Warrensburg, Mo
Habitat and conservation

Western wormsnakes live on rocky, wooded or open hillsides, or along the edge of forest where flat rocks or logs provide suitable shelters. This species is never seen in the open; it hides under rocks, logs, or boards or burrows into damp soil or leaf litter.

Foods

Foods include earthworms and some soft-bodied insects, insect larvae, and eggs.

Western Wormsnake Distribution Map
Distribution in Missouri

Statewide, except for extreme southeastern corner and a few counties in the north-central part of the state.

Life cycle

This species is usually active between March and October, but it may estivate deep in the soil during the hot, dry period of late July and August. Breeding occurs in the spring and possibly also in fall. Eggs are laid under rocks or underground during June and early July. About 1–6 eggs are laid. These likely hatch in middle to late August.

Human connections

This common, harmless snake has never been known to bite. When handled, a wormsnake may attempt to escape by trying to work its head through one’s fingers and will also push its sharp but harmless tail against the skin. Support nature education. Speak out on behalf of snakes.

Ecosystem connections

As predators, wormsnakes help to keep worm and insect populations in check. Being small and relatively defenseless, wormsnakes are also preyed upon by larger predators, which helps explain their secretive habits.