Ben here with the Thursday edition of #BenInNature presented by our friends at Carter Bank & ...

Ben here with the Thursday edition of #BenInNature presented by our friends at Carter Bank & ...

Ben here with the Thursday edition of #BenInNature presented by our friends at Carter Bank & Trust!

Here's our pick for the second rarest snake in Virginia: Virginia valeriae pulchra, the mountain earthsnake!

The mountain earthsnake is one of three subspecies of the smooth earthsnake, and of the three, it's the one with the smallest distribution. It occurs in the mountains of western Pennsylvania, northeastern West Virginia, and western Maryland. As far as Virginia, it's only been recorded on private land in Highland County, and unfortunately, the area where it's found is routinely logged for timber, which could put this subspecies at risk of being extirpated from Virginia.

Like many of the snakes we're looking at this week, this one is pretty small; it reaches a maximum length of about 15 inches. Within its range, it can be found in hardwood and pine forests, abandoned fields, dry upland ridges, woodlots, and moist lowlands. It's usually found underneath cover objects, and much of its life is spent underground. It seems as though it preys almost exclusively on worms.

If you're fortunate enough to encounter a mountain earthsnake, there's no need to panic; they're non-venomous and don't usually bite!

Thank you to the Virginia Herpetological Society ( for the use of this photo, which was taken by Paul Sattler.

ABOUT #BenInNature
Social distancing can be difficult, but it presents a great opportunity to become reacquainted with nature. In this series of posts, Administrator of Science Ben Williams ventures outdoors to record a snapshot of the unique sights that can be found in the natural world. New updates are posted Monday - Friday, with previous posts highlighted on the weekends. This series of posts is made possible thanks to the support of VMNH Corporate Partner Carter Bank & Trust (

If you discover something in nature that you would like help identifying, be sure to message us right here on Facebook with a picture (please include location and date of picture) and we'll have our experts help you identify it!

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