A Guide to Keeping Green Snakes as Pets

Rough green snake

Rough and smooth green snakes are closely related, and while they have minor variances, they are largely the same in captivity. Both are tiny, thin-bodied snakes native to North America, where their populations are becoming vulnerable or endangered in a number of states. Both species have a striking emerald-green hue with a pale yellow or cream-colored belly, and when aroused, they are said to take on a blue tone. Rough green snakes are more prevalent in the pet trade than smooth green snakes, although both make excellent "look only" pets for the skilled reptile keeper. They are not the ideal choice for a first-time snake keeper or for settings with small children since they are timid feeders that like peaceful environs.

Species Overview

Common Names: Rough green snake, smooth green snake, grass snake, green whip snake, garden snake, vine snake, keeled green snake.

Scientific Names: Opheodrys aestivus, Opheodrys vernalis

Adult Size: Rough green snakes are roughly 2 to 3 feet long; smooth green snakes are smaller and shorter, at about 2 feet.

Life Expectancy: 6 to 8 years; 15 years has been reported

Green Snake Behavior and Temperament

Green snakes are green because they are arboreal, meaning they spend the majority of their time hanging from plants and trees, hunting. Green snakes are cautious and timid snakes. They are not advised for novice snake owners since they might be anxious and unwilling to eat. Green snakes, both smooth and rough, are upset by handling and are best suited to merely watching.

Housing the Green Snake

Green snakes are little snakes, thus while a large tank is not required, vertical area for climbing is required. Green snakes may be housed in groups since they are docile; three can live together in a 30-gallon container.

A 30-gallon hexagonal tank is a wonderful choice since it has plenty of room for foliage and hiding places. Because both rough and smooth green snakes have tiny bodies, they require an escape-proof cage. To prevent escapes, the tank will require a very tight-fitting fine mesh screen lid. The greatest lids are slammed shut.

Green snakes without a lot of vegetation to hide in would grow agitated. Because these snakes are so little, real plants like pothos, ivy, and other harmless plants, as well as silk plants, can suffice in the aquarium. At least half of the tank should be covered in plants. Climbing branches and vines should also be available. Include some conceal boxes as well.


It's ideal to use an overhead heat source like a heat lamp (white light during the day, red, blue, or purple at night) or a ceramic heat emitter. Heat from an under tank heat pad can supplement the overhead heat source, but make sure your snake does not sit directly on the hot glass, since thermal burns can occur.

The recommended temperature range for green snakes is 70 to 80 degrees Fahrenheit (21 to 27 degrees Celsius), however other sources suggest a greater range. The temperature may be set between 65 and 75 degrees Fahrenheit at night (18 to 24 C).


These snakes need have a UVA/UVB bulb on for 10 to 12 hours every day because they are diurnal (day dwellers). To provide the snake a light-dark cycle, any visible light and UVB light sources should be switched off at night.

Assuming your snake will not have access to bright sunlight, ZooMed's reptile or iguana lights, and Durotest's Vita-Lite are two good products. Replace the UVB light sources every six months.


High humidity is not required for this species. In addition to misting, the snake's water dish will contribute to the tank's humidity, which should be kept between 40 and 50 percent. If you're keeping your snake in a cooler region, use a hygrometer to determine internal humidity levels and keep an eye on it throughout the dry winter months. Any snake will benefit from a transient rise in humidity of up to 60% during its shedding process.


The substrate (materials that line the bottom of the enclosure) should be carefully chosen for both safety and simplicity of cleaning. Reptile carpet, as well as basic paper towels or inkless newspaper, are suitable choices for these arboreal snakes. Substrate materials that might be consumed accidently should be avoided.

Food and Water

Green snakes are insectivores, meaning they consume only insects and worms. They are one of the rare snakes that eat just insects and worms. Crickets, moths, grasshoppers, caterpillars, fly larvae, spiders, and worms are among the prey they eat in the wild.

Feed a diet consisting primarily of soft-bodied prey, such as caterpillars, in captivity, yet it is critical to keep the diet varied. Include pesticide-free spiders, moths, flies, and their larvae as much as feasible.

Green snakes can be given mealworms, grasshoppers, and crickets, but only on rare occasions, as any insect with a strong shell may cause impaction if eaten too frequently. To lessen the possibilities, exclusively pick freshly molted mealworms. On occasion, other soft feeder worms, such as wax worms, might be provided. Make sure you don't give your snake any prey that is broader than its body.

Before being provided to green snakes, all prey items should be gut-loaded, which means they have been fed a nutritious diet, including a vitamin and mineral supplement. A calcium supplement should be applied to prey items many times each week.

On feeding day, feed your green snakes many times, totalling what they will consume in a 20-minute period. However, feeding days should be limited to once or twice a week. Feeding your snake before dawn or dusk will bring out the most willing eater, but if your snake is still disinterested in food, consider moving the enclosure to a quieter room with less activity.

These snakes, like arboreal lizards, prefer to sip water droplets off leaves rather than from a bowl or other groundwater source, therefore spraying the vegetation on a daily basis is essential. However, a shallow dish of water large enough for the snake to get into for a full-body wash but shallow enough to prevent drowning is still required.

Common Health and Behavior Problems

There are several health issues that require the attention of a reptile veterinarian. Fungal and respiratory illnesses are common in both varieties of green snakes. A respiratory infection is marked by open-mouthed breathing and wheezing, whereas a fungal infection is marked by skin discoloration.

Mouth rot, or infected stomatitis, is another disease that affects snakes, including the green snake. Saliva bubbles and inflammation in and around the mouth are symptoms of this bacterial infection. When the infection reaches the bone, the snake's teeth may be lost if not treated.

Choosing Your Green Snake

There is worry about both of these snake species' natural populations dwindling, probably owing to habitat loss and pesticide usage. One or both of these species are vulnerable or endangered in some states. Keep in mind that depending on where you live, collecting these snakes from the wild may be illegal; you might be further decreasing an already falling population if they are endangered or vulnerable in your region.

It is preferable to obtain a captive-bred green snake because wild-caught individuals are more prone to grow agitated and have a harder time adjusting to confinement. Snakes collected in the wild may also have a high parasite burden.

Similar Species to the Green Snake

If you’re interested in pets similar to the green snake, check out:

Otherwise, check out other types of reptiles and amphibians that can be your pet!