Want a snake, but hate the idea of feeding it mice or rats?
There is a snake for you.
The rough green snake eats worms and insects, making it much easier to feed than most other snakes.
And that’s not all.
Everything about rough green snake care is easier: they stay small and don’t need much space, the are docile, they are easy to find and they are harmless.
They only potential issue is that they do not enjoy being handled. You can do it, if you get them used to it, but they generally prefer to be left alone in their enclosure.
Read on to find out if this wonderful snake is the ideal pet for you.
Table of Contents
- 1 Rough Green Snake (Opheodrys Aestivus)
- 2 Rough Green Snake: Final Thoughts
Rough Green Snake (Opheodrys Aestivus)
The rough green snake is native to North America. It is very popular among snake lovers, because it is very easy to procure.
That said, they usually take some time before settling into a new home, if taken fresh from the wild. They stress easily and do not enjoy being held captive as a pet. But they can get used to it, and the first step is to recreate their natural environment for them.
Natural Habitat And Environment
Rough green snakes come from wet areas like the dams, marshes, or the banks of rivers. They thrive in places with loads of trees and long grass.
When hunting, they mimic the movement of their surrounding. For example, they might move with a branch, in getting ready to pounce on unsuspecting prey.
The rough green snake population has been declining of late. This could partly be caused by people killing more insects with insecticides over the past few decades. This resulting drop in insect numbers reduced the food supply for these snakes.
Can You Take Them From The Wild?
Many people simply catch their rough green snake in the wild, but some areas of the United States have made it illegal to do so. Before you go out in search of this snake, make sure you check your state law regarding their capture. You don’t want to find yourself in hot water.
If looked after properly these snakes will live up to 20 years. They will need all their comforts like a nice hide, lighting, a well-sized enclosure, the correct temperature, and the correct food. We’ll cover everything you need to put in their enclosure below.
Females are generally thicker and grow longer than their male counterparts. On average they can grow up to 4 feet in length.
Because of the green color on the top of their bodies and the yellowish/white bottom, they tend to camouflage very well. These snakes love to hide behind some area of its enclosure and often, you will have a hard time seeing them.
These snakes a very quick and are not a great snake to handle as a result. They are better left inside their enclosure.
That said, if you handle them regularly they eventually become used to you and much easier handle. But don’t overdo it. Handling stresses them out. They thrive when left alone in their enclosure.
They love to climb, so you should have lots of branches and vines in the enclosure. They usually only come down to the ground when they are being fed or to drink water. They are most active during the day time, because that is when most insects are active.
They also love to hide and will spend most of their time trying to keep out of sight. That is another reason you should give them plenty of foliage in their enclosure.
If you do try handling them, it will rarely result in a bit. Rough green snakes are very docile and will hardly ever bite. If they do bite, there is nothing to worry about, because they are not venomous at all and the bite will cause no harm.
If they feel frightened or threatened, which they do if you handle them, they resort to a different defense mechanism: they let off a musky smell. This smell can be very strong and it can take a few days before your hands are free of it, even after tons of washing.
You must have a bowl of water in the enclosure at all times, because these snake love drinking and drink a lot. You can also spray some water on the foliage. The snakes will drink water off of the leaves.
The diet of this snake makes it one of the best and easiest species to have as a pet. In fact, this may be one of the best pets out there because of its diet. What could be better than a snake that kills and eats those irritating cockroaches and crickets?
Their diet mainly consists of crickets, moths, grasshoppers, caterpillars, earthworms, spiders and snails. Their main food that they eat in the wild is caterpillars. This food list makes then super easy to look after. Just feed your snake crickets or worms, like in this video.
How To Set Up Their Enclosure
You want at least a 10-gallon tank for these snakes, though larger is better. Get one with some vertical space, since they love to climb. Our article on buying a snake enclosure will help you find the right one.
Fill the bottom of the enclosure with some bedding. Coconut fiber substrate works well for these snakes. Our article on buying snake bedding will help you get the right kind.
As mentioned above, rough green snakes love to hide, so you want to provide plenty of hiding sports. Any of these snake hides work great. I would get two of those and then provide additional hiding places using foliage.
For foliage, buy branches and vines, then add a bunch of leaves (fake ones, obviously) to the vines and branches to mimic what they get in their natural habitat. Fill about half the tank with greenery. It makes them feel at home and allows them to both climb and hide, both things they love.
The snake will needs a constant supply of fresh water, so give it a water dish. Get a dish large enough for the snake to get into for a soak. Make sure to replace the water often, so that it is always clean.
Like most snakes, the rough green snake needs two different temperatures on each end of the enclosure. Each end should also have a hide, so that the snake can conceal itself while regulating its body temperature.
For the hot end, use either a heat bulb or a heated mat to heat that side of the tank to 85° to 88° F. Connect the mat or lamp to a good thermostat like these to ensure the temperature stays constant.
The cooler end of the tank can be around 70° F. Use a thermometer like this one to check this temperature, but you probably won’t need to do any additional heating, since most homes are kept around that temperature anyway.
The thermometer we recommended above also measures humidity, to help you ensure the enclosure does not get too dry or too humid. These snakes like a humidity level of around 50%, so you probably won’t have to do much adjusting.
If humidity gets too low, snakes can suffer from respiratory or shedding problems. If it gets too high, they can develop a skin fungus. Raise humidity by spraying water into the tank. Lower it by keeping the tank ventilated. We have an entire article on lowering the humidity with much more advice.
Can You Keep Several Snakes In One Enclosure?
These snakes are very social and actually prefer to have company. You can keep as many of these snakes together as your enclosure will allow. You will obviously need to purchase a bigger enclosure, the more snakes you get. For 2 snakes you will need at least a 20-gallon tank.
Rough Green Snake: Final Thoughts
The rough green snake is a great snake to keep especially for the beginning snake enthusiast. The fact that they only eat insects makes them especially attractive to those who prefer not to have to feed their snakes rodents.
These snakes are also very hardy and tough and can handle most things you throw at them. That said, please remember your snake is essentially a prisoner that has been taken away from its home in the wild, and always treat it with respect. You want your snake to live a happy, healthy life.