Species group: Insect-Eating Snakes
Scientific name: Carphophis amoenus amoenus
The Eastern Worm Snake vies with 1-2 other species for the title of North America's smallest serpent. This diminutive creature is found from southeastern Massachusetts to Alabama and central Georgia. A subspecies, the Midwestern Worm Snake, ranges to Missouri, Arkansas and Louisiana. The Western Worm Snake (C. vermis) inhabits the area from Nebraska south to Texas. The Eastern Worm Snake is at home in fields, forests, farms, meadows and the undisturbed portions of suburban and even urban parks. It shelters below ground, within thick leaf litter, or beneath stones and decaying logs, and rarely appears on the surface.
Appearance / health:
The slender, graceful Eastern Worm Snake averages a mere 9-12 inches in length, with a record of 13.5 inches. Its glossy scales are un-patterned, and clad in various shades of brown or tan, with a pinkish tinge to the underbelly. The pointed head assists in burrowing.
Behavior / temperament:
Shy and always on guard (they are on the menus of a great many predators!) these little snakes can rarely even be induced to bite. They are stressed by handling, and are best considered as pets to observe only.
A single Eastern Worm Snake will do fine in a 10 gallon aquarium; a 20 gallon will support 3-4 adults. A small aquarium inverted within a larger aquarium will help to confine burrowing to areas along the glass, where they can be more easily observed. Unlike most snakes, this species does not fare well on newspapers, aspen shavings or similar substrates. The Worm Snake terrarium should instead be furnished with a thick layer of dead leaves and coco-husk. Most will shelter below the substrate, but strips of bark and a cave stocked with moist sphagnum moss should also be provided. Moist and dry areas of substrate should be available. The tank’s screen lid should be secured by cage clips. Due to their small size, Eastern Worm Snakes are ideal inhabitants of naturalistic terrariums provisioned with live plants. Ambient temperature: 72-78 F; Basking temperature: 82 F
If droppings are removed regularly, there is usually little need to break down and clean the entire terrarium, especially if live plants are established. The tank should be misted daily, and the moss within their cave should be kept slightly moist.
The natural diet includes earthworms, beetle grubs, cut worms and other “non-hairy” caterpillars, slugs and other soft-bodied invertebrates. Pets do fine on a base diet of earthworms, slugs, waxworms and butterworms. A shallow water bowl should be available.
At less than one inch in length, Eastern Worm Snake eggs are among the reptile world’s smallest – they really must be seen to be believed! Typical clutches contain 4-8 eggs, which hatch in 7-8 weeks when incubated in moist vermiculite at 80 F. Slender and measuring only 3 to 4 inches in length, hatchlings are even more easily mistaken for earthworms than are the adults! A short cooling off period and reduced light cycle may encourage breeding, but little is known of their exact requirements.
Eastern Worm Snakes Are Easy to Maintain and Important to Their Ecosystem
Growing up in a pet-friendly household in the Research Triangle area of North Carolina, my siblings and I were on a first name basis with everyone who worked in our local vet clinic, the neighborhood pet rescue, and one pet store in particular. This store was owned by a young man in his mid 20s who owned everything from tiny frogs to stunningly long snakes to extremely big cats, and my siblings and I were mesmerized weekly by the stories he would tell us regarding both his hands-on experience and his non-invasive biological research (he was, I believe, pursuing an advanced degree in biology in those days).
One day, as my brother attempted to convince my parents that our house needed one more snake (there were six then), a man and his son came in with three snakes they hoped to sell to our pet store owner buddy. Looking for a pillowcase or some other transport, I was surprised when he pulled out a large styrofoam cup to pour three of the tiniest snakes I had ever seen into a terrarium on the counter. Our friend smiled broadly, saying, "You don't usually find three together!"
These snakes were among the prettiest I had ever seen. Growing up around snakes, we were all fairly fearless about them, but a tiny, pretty, brownish-pink snake the size of a worm delighted me in a new way. "May I hold one?" I asked, and permission was quickly given. Reaching for the littlest one, though, I was surprised to find that she coiled as if to strike, rearing her head back and eying me suspiciously.
"She's frightened," our friend explained, "Be gentle."
And with that, I came to hold Ribbon, one of the most entertaining snakes I have ever encountered. Our pet store owner friend explained to the man that he did not have a market for the snakes, but if he would accept $5.00 for them, he would take them all. This was the 70s, and I would guess that was a fair deal. When the man and the boy had gone, the owner turned to us to say, "N and H, if you would like to have these snakes for your own, and if your parents say yes, I will give them to you in exchange for help with the turtles I have in the back."
That day, I went home with the prettiest Ribbon ever, and my little brother had two new snakes of his own.
Very easy to care for, our Eastern Worm Snakes required just those things they would have in nature:
*safe habitat with a temperature of about 70 degrees Fahrenheit and humidity of around 70-75%, natural substrate of forest bedding to five inches and logs, etc.
* clean water everyday (provided in a shallow bowl) and food that consisted of small earthworms, slugs, and occasional soft-bodied larvae. Feeding Eastern worm snakes several earthworms (each) once a week and supplementing with a slug or two from time to time is sufficient.
Fairly common in the wild, Eastern Worm Snakes are rarely seen and threatened by development and encroachment. Completely harmless to humans, they consume only pests and earthworms (which we love). Worm snakes are completely carnivorous, opportunistic predators who must have live food of an appropriate size. Living mainly underground, they present a problem for diet gauging.
I loved my Eastern Worm Snake, but my interest was mainly as an observer of nature. This snake DOES NOT make an ideal pet for anyone planning to handle their snake often as they are happiest when allowed to hermit away as they would in nature..
From Nolaerus Feb 26 2014 11:35AM
Eastern Worm Snakes
Eastern Worm Snakes are not commonly kept, but make wonderful pets for those interested in observing rather than handling their snakes. They are shy, and spend most of their life below ground. Inverting a small aquarium within a larger will create an "ant farm" type enclosure that will enable you to watch the snake as it tunnels in search of earthworms. Captives will also accept waxworms, butter worms and silkworms; crickets are usually rejected. Little is known about there natural history, so the dedicated snake keeper has the opportunity to make important discoveries...
From findiviglio Mar 3 2014 8:52PM