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Virginia valeriae elegans
Smooth earthsnakes are nearly identical to rough earthsnakes in coloration (both brown/beige with virtually no pattern) and size (both small). The names dont really give you any advantage, since you can't see the keels on the rough earthsnake by the naked eye or feel the difference in texture (and if you can, I wont argue with you, but I will tell you that I've handled these snakes many times and could never tell the difference myself). The easiest way to ID them is to count scales. V. valeriae has 6 upper labial scales, 2 postocular scales, and 2 scales between the nostrils. To me, the easiest way to ID them was to look for the postocular scales. This snake was captured when I worked on the Mofep Project.
Missouri Ozarks, forest, leaf-litter.
As with the rough earthsnake that I posted, the reference insists that you can feel the difference in the rough vs smooth scales. I say you can't. All of the Mofep herp crew would agree with me, and that's why we teach everybody (still, though its been a few years since I was on the crew) to look for the postocular scales. Its easy, its reliable, its fast. No hassle.
Spotted on Sep 23, 2009
Submitted on Sep 23, 2012