Animals

Check Out These Ssseriously Cool Ground Snake Facts

One of the interesting ground snake facts is that its head is barely broader than its neck and body.
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Ground snakes are a collection of 14 snake species in the genus Sonora, all endemic to North America. There are also ground snakes endemic to South America that belong to the genus Atractus. Of all these ground snakes, the most noteworthy is the western ground snake (Sonora semiannulata), which is also the type species for the Sonora genus of ground snakes. The western ground snake species is hence known as the common ground snake and sometimes as the variable ground snake. The ground snake gets its name because it dwells underneath the ground during most of the day and comes out at nightfall and if there is rain to feed on a diet of scorpions, centipedes, and other animals. The variable ground snakes can be colored differently and they breed indiscriminately with snakes colored differently than themselves. The western ground snakes (Sonora semiannulata) are famously non-poisonous and are harmless to humans. The western ground snake is a Least Concern snake species according to its IUCN status.

For more relatable content, check out these rattlesnake facts and common garter snake facts for kids.

Ground Snake

Fact File

What do they prey on?

Scorpions, centipedes, spiders, insect larvae, crickets

What do they eat?

Carnivore

Average litter size?

1-6 eggs

How much do they weigh?

4.4-11 lb (2-5 kg)

How long are they?

8-19 in (20.3-48.3 cm)

How tall are they?

N/A

What do they look like?

Brown, orange, red, black, white, gray

Skin Type

Smooth scales

What are their main threats?

Snakes, birds, mammals, large lizards, giant desert centipedes, sidewinders

What is their conservation status?

Least Concern (for the type species, Sonoro semiannulata)

Where you'll find them

Rocky and dry areas, and loose soil

Locations

North America

Kingdom

Animalia

Class

Reptilia

Scientific Name

Sonora semiannulata (type species)

Family

Colubridae

Genus

Sonora

Ground Snake Interesting Facts

What type of animal is a ground snake?

The ground snake is a snake and a reptile.

What class of animal does a ground snake belong to?

The ground snake belongs to the Reptilia class of animals.

How many ground snakes are there in the world?

It is unknown how many ground snakes are currently present in the world. These snakes are very common in their habitat range. Also, there may be upwards of 100,000 western ground snakes in the world.

Where does a ground snake live?

Ground snakes are native to the region of North America. Their range consists mainly of the northern and central parts of Mexico and the southwestern parts of the USA.

The western ground snake or the variable ground snake (Sonora semiannulata) is endemic to the southwestern USA range, to the regions of Arizona, California, Nevada, Colorado, Missouri, Kansas, New Mexico, Oregon, Oklahoma, Texas, and Utah. Its range also extends to the region of northern Mexico, in Chihuahua, Durango, Coahuila, Nuevo León, and Sonora.

What is a ground snake's habitat?

Ground snakes prefer a sandy habitat. Western ground snakes (Sonora semiannulata) prefer rocky and dry areas with some loose soil. These reptiles also live in habitats with some surface cover and moisture such as river bottoms, grasslands, desert flats, sand hummocks, ranchland, sandy washes, riparian thickets, and dry streambeds. It is also seen along roadsides, below rocky surface debris, and in ditches of dry drainage.

Who do ground snakes live with?

Ground snakes are usually shy, secretive, and alone.

How long does a ground snake live?

Not very much is known about the lifespans of ground snakes.

How do they reproduce?

The ground snake reproduces by oviparous means, meaning it lays eggs. Mating happens during  May and early June and one to six eggs are laid underneath the ground in its habitat during the summer months of May-August. The eggs are incubated for two months.

What is their conservation status?

The conservation status of the type species i.e. the western ground snake (Sonora semiannulata), according to the International Union for Conservation of Nature is Least Concern.

Ground Snake Fun Facts

What do ground snakes look like?

The ground snake has a variable color pattern. It is a small snake with smooth and glossy scales. It has a round body and its head is only slightly wider than its neck and body. There are four main morphs of the western ground snake (Sonora semiannulata) species. They can either be a plain brown coloration, or striped red, banded black, or they could have red (or yellowish) and black bands. These dark markings and coloration do not vary with sex or alter with age. Ground snakes with different coloration and morphs are often seen in the same place. The underside is gray, white, or yellowish with the dark crossbands absent. The dorsal scales are smooth and the eye pupil is round.

The western ground snakes often have black bands on their bodies.

How cute are they?

Ground snakes aren't exactly cute but they do have a certain aesthetic quality. They come in several colorations and have beautiful dark-banded patterns. They are slender, round, non-poisonous snakes with small heads.

How do they communicate?

Being snakes, they communicate via chemical cues or pheromones. The pheromones are read by the vomeronasal systems and can relay information like sexual maturity and age.

How big is a ground snake?

Ground snakes are 8-19 in (20.3-48.3 cm) long which makes them two times smaller than copperhead snakes and about 11 times smaller than reticulated pythons.

How fast can a ground snake move?

It is unclear exactly how fast a ground snake can move, but being a snake it can probably move at speeds close to 8 mph (13 kph). And it is slower than predatory sidewinders which move at 18 mph (29 kph).

How much does a ground snake weigh?

A ground snake weighs around 4.4-11 lb (2-5 kg).

What are the male and female names of the species?

The females and males of the ground snake species do not have specific names.

What would you call a baby ground snake?

A baby ground snake would be called a snakelet.

What do they eat?

Ground snakes' diet consists of a range of different animals like scorpions, centipedes, spiders, insect larvae, and crickets.

They themselves get preyed upon across their range by other snakes, birds, mammals, large lizards, giant desert centipedes, and sidewinders.

Are they poisonous?

The ground snakes are famously non-poisonous. They do not have venom and are harmless to humans. There is a hint of a mild venom (also harmless) since their rear teeth on outer sides have shallow grooves

Would they make a good pet?

Ground snakes may be interesting as a pet but it would be very tough to recreate a version of their natural habitat, and even harder to maintain it. So, they aren't very popular as pets.

Did you know...

The western or variable ground snake is also known by another name, the 'miter snake'. This name alludes to its head marking pattern that resembles the miter of a bishop. It is also called the Arizona ground snake when found in that part of its range.

Japan also has a ground snake species known as the Japanese ground snake or the Peters' odd-scaled snake.

There were once considered to be five western ground snake subspecies. The subspecies were separated due to differences in pattern, but these differently-colored subspecies were found to breed with each other indiscriminately. These subspecies were again collectively called western ground snakes since these reptiles were inseparable.

Honduran milk snakes and orange-striped ribbonsnakes have black and orange stripes. Western ground snakes, coral snakes, rainbow snakes, scarlet kingsnakes, and corn snakes also have red-to-orange and black stripes. Of these, only the coral snakes which have orange-red bands in between white and yellow bands are poisonous.

Garter snakes, ground snakes, rat snakes, black-headed pythons are known for burrowing into the ground and digging holes. Other snake species also dig temporary holes in loose soil.

Different types of ground snake

The snakes of the genus Sonora are commonly referred to as ground snakes and they are native to the region of North America. There are 14 different species in this genus, which includes the western shovelnose snake species, the Sonoran shovelnose snake species, and the western ground snake species.

The Atractus genus also contains many snake species that are referred to as the ground snakes of South America, being endemic to that region. They have round ventral scales.

Do ground snakes burrow in the ground?

Yes, ground snakes burrow into the ground during the daytime. These reptiles also lay their eggs under the ground within their habitat range.

Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly animal facts for everyone to discover! Learn more about some other reptiles from our green tree python fun facts and anaconda snake fun facts for kids pages.

You can even occupy yourself at home by coloring in one of our free printable garter snake coloring pages.

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