While cleaning up the yard the other day, I discovered a nest of these little guys. There were four of them twisted up in a pile beneath a fence panel. Rough earth snakes are ovoviparious – meaning that the mothers have a live birth instead of laying eggs. Since there were four of them I hope that there will be more. I looked it up and identified them as Virginia striatula or the common rough earth snake.
Apparently they will poop on you as a defense mechanism so I’m happy now that I resisted the urge to pick one up. I’ve since seen them wiggling around the base of my tomatoes looking for a dark place to hide. Their preferred resting places are dark, cool, and moist, which explains why they were hanging out under the fence panel. Animals like this, and those that are adapted to living underground and digging, are known as fossorial.
They mostly eat slugs and other soft bodied arthropods like earthworms, snails, and suitably sized insects and invertebrates. Anything that eats snails and slugs is more than welcome in my garden.
One of the things I enjoy most about being outdoors and especially working in the garden are all of the opportunities I have to learn new things about my world. I can’t wait until I have my own classroom and the opportunity to share this wonder with my students.
I referenced good ol’ wikipedia for the identification and information about this creature.