Some snakes you may encounter look like worms. They are small and very difficult to tell apart from a worm. Some will look like earthworms and you may be wondering if you encountered a worm or snake in your yard.
This article will introduce the fourteen snakes that look like worms in the United States, along with how to identify them, their diet, and whether they are venomous or not.
The fourteen snakes that look like worms in the United States include:
1. Texas Blind Snake
Scientific name: Rena dulcis.
Common name: Texas blind snake, Texas slender blind snake, Texas threadsnake.
The Texas blind snake belongs to the Leptotyphlopidae family and is endemic to the Southwestern United States.
These snakes look like shiny earthworms. They are pink/brown with a deep sheen on the scales. Their eyes are two dark dots. The Texas blind snake grows to around 11 inches (27cm) in total length and spends most of its time buried in the soil. They come out of hiding when feeding or when it rains.
When you pick them up, they will move around and try and poke the tip of the tail into your hand. They are completely harmless with small mouths that are too small to give a proper bite.
2. Worm Snake
Scientific name: Carphophis amoenus.
Common name: worm snake.
The worm snake is a harmless snake that is endemic to North America, ranging from Massachusetts to Alabama, Louisiana, and Illinois. They are common in wetlands and woodlands, though they are rarely encountered, spending their time buried under rocks, leaf litter, and logs.
These small snakes grow to 11 inches (27cm) in total length and have smooth and glossy scales with small heads and reduced black eyes.
They feed mostly on earthworms, though they may also eat slugs and any other insects they can fit into their mouth.
3. Western Worm Snake
Scientific name: Carphophis vermis.
Common name: western worm snake.
The Western worm snake is a small, nonvenomous snake that is native to the United States. They are dark with a purple or black coloration and light pink or red on the belly. They grow to around 11 inches (27cm) in total length.
They are common in Iowa, Nebraska, Kansas, Illinois, Missouri, Louisiana, Oklahoma, Texas, and Wisconsin.
Spending most of their time buried in rock soil or under leaf litter, they are seldom encountered, though remain abundance in their range.
If you do happen to find one and pick it up, will release a foul smell, while pressing the tip of the tail into the hand. This is a defense measure and is not dangerous to humans.
4. Brahminy Blind Snake
Scientific name: Indotyphlops braminus.
Common name: brahminy blind snake.
Brahminy blind snakes are non-venomous snakes, originally from Africa and Asia, which have been introduced around the world, including the United States.
They are burrowers and look very similar to an earthworm. These are very small snakes that grow to around four inches (10cm) in length. Their tails have small pointed spurs with fourteen rows of dorsal scales on the body.
Their colors range from silver-gray to a light yellow/beige and some are purple. There have also been albino species identified.
Their eyes have translucent scales, making the snake almost blind. Their eyes cannot form images, but rather register the light intensity.
They are common in agricultural and urban areas, where they hid underground in ant and termite nests, under logs, stones, and gardens. Their diet comprises eggs, ants, and termites.
5. Trans-Pecos Blindsnake
Scientific name: Rena segrega.
Common name: Trans-Pecos blind snake.
The Trans-Pecos blind snake belongs to the Leptotyphlopidae family and is endemic to Texas, especially the dry regions in the western part of the state.
These are small, non-venomous snakes, growing to ten inches in length. They are purple to brown in color with one scale on the top of the head and five rows of scales on their backs and ten rows on their tails.
Their diet comprises mostly of termites and ants.
These secretive snakes spend most of their time under the loose sandy soil and rocks.
6. Ring-necked snake
Scientific name: Diadophis punctatus.
Common name: ring-necked snake.
Ring-necked snakes can be found throughout most of the United States. These are secretive and nocturnal snakes, seldom encountered. Their defense posture involves the curling of the tail, exposing a red to orange posterior when threatened.
They are brown olive or blue/gray in color with red, yellow, or an orange/yellow neckband. Their heads tend to be darker than their bodies. The underside is yellow/orange to red with crescent black spots on the margins.
Adults can grow to fifteen inches (38cm) in length and they have smooth scale.
They are common throughout most of the United States where they live in a range of habitats from areas with abundant cover, open woodland,s rocky hillsides, and underwood or scraps.
7. Smooth Earthsnake
Scientific name: Virginia valeriae.
Common name: Smooth earthsnake.
Smooth earthsnakes are non-venomous snakes native to the east of the United States and are common in Texas, Iowa, Florida, and New Jersey.
They have brown hair on the top of their head and dark spots on the plates. There is a small black ring around each eye. Some have a median line with small black spots on their backs and sides. They grow to 9.8 inches (25cm) in length.
They are burrowing snakes, spending most of their time hidden below soil or leaf litter, and are seldom encountered.
They eat a diet comprising soft-bodied arthropods and earthworms.
They are known to defecate as a form of defense and they may try to bite, but their small mouth and teeth give a superficial bite. They can be picked up and relocated safely.
8. New Mexico Blind Snake
Scientific name: Rena dissecta.
Common name: New Mexico blind snake, New Mexico threadsnake.
The New Mexico blind snake or thread snake is a non-venomous snake that is common in the southern and southwestern United States and Northern Mexico.
They are protected in Kansas and can also be found from southern Colorado to western Texas and western Oklahoma to northern Mexico and eastern Arizona.
They grow around eight inches in length once adults with smooth scales and pink/tan coloration.
The New Mexico blind snake spends the majority of its time underground and only emerges when there is high humidity. They do not bite humans and feed mostly on eggs and termites.
9. Rough Earth Snake
Scientific name: Haldea striatula.
Common name: rough earth snake.
The rough earth snake is common in the United States and is found from southern Virginia to Florida and the Gulf Coast to Texas, Missouri, and Kansas.
These small and slender snakes are harmless and secretive, growing to ten inches with round pupils. They are brown, gray, or red in color with no pattern. Females tend to be slightly larger than males. They have a white to tan colored belly.
They spend their days hiding under rocks, logs, and stones, leaf litter, or compost piles. They prefer forested areas with an abundance of ground cover, it is not uncommon for them to live in urban areas in gardens, parks, and vacant lots.
They are not aggressive or venomous and are usually completely harmless if you come across one, you can safely pick it up and relocate it. They are known to give off a foul smell to deter predators.
Their diet comprises earthworms, slugs, bugs, eggs, and larvae.
10. Sharp-tailed snake
Scientific name: Contia tenuis.
Common name: Sharp-tailed snake.
Sharp-tailed snakes are members of the Colubridae family and are endemic to the western United States and British Columbia. They can be encountered in California, Oregon, and Washington, along with British Columbia and southern Vancouver Island.
These snakes grow to eighteen inches (46cm) in total length when adults. They have a sharp tail spine, with a protruding tip on the last vertebra. Their spines are not toxic and they are a non-venomous snake species. The tail is used to stylize prey for feeding.
They are a gray-brown to brick red color with black and white crossbars on the belly.
These are shy and secretive snakes usually found under rocks and logs. You will never encounter one in the open. They burrow in soft soil or clay cracks.
Their diet is restricted to slugs and slug eggs.
11. Plains Black-headed Snake
Scientific name: Tantilla nigriceps.
Common name: plains black-headed snake.
The plains black-headed snake is a shy and small snake growing to around fifteen inches (38cm) in length. They are uniformly tan or brown/gray in color with white bellies, complete with an orange or pink mid-line strike.
They are common in Colorado, Kansas, Arizona, Texas, Nebraska, Oklahoma, New Mexico, and Mexico where they prefer rocky to grassy prairies. They are also found on hillsides with moist soil and sometimes in home basements.
They are very secretive snakes that prefer hiding in leaf litter and burrows during the day and being active at night.
12. Western Threadsnake
Scientific name: Rena humilis.
Common name: western blind snake, western slender blind snake, western threadsnake.
The Western Threadsnake is a member of the Leptotyphlopidae family, resembling a long earthworm. These snakes spend most of their time underground, hiding in burrows.
These are blind snakes that do not use vision, they can be silver/brown to pink or purple in color. They are shiny and have cylindrical-shaped bodies with black eyespots.
These snakes average around twelve inches (30cm) in length when adults and are slender in build. They are fluorescent under ultraviolet light.
Western thread snakes are common in the southwestern United States and Northern Mexico. They live underground and are known to live as deep as twenty meters. They invade termite and ant nests with their diet comprising of insects, eggs, and larvae.
13. Flat-headed Snake
Scientific name: Tantilla gracilis.
Common name: flat-headed snake.
The flat-headed snake is a non-venomous snake belonging to the Colunbridae family.
They are smooth scaled with colors ranging from gray to brown, red/brown, and tan. The head is often darker than the body. The underside is a salmon pink color, which helps distinguish this snake from the earth snakes, which look similar.
These small and shy snakes grow to eight inches in length and are mostly active from April to October. They spend their day hiding in moist soil or under rocks.
Their diet comprises centipedes and insects, along with insect larvae.
14. Red-bellied Snake
Scientific name: Storeria occipitomaculata.
Common name: Red-bellied snake.
Red-bellied snakes are non-venomous snakes belonging to the Colunbridae family. They are sometimes called fire snakes and are endemic to North America and the Caribbean.
They are olive/brown, tan/brown, chestnut brown, gray/brown, black or gray in color with three yellow spots behind the head. Their belly is brick to coral red in three shades, creating a shaded stripe pattern. They have keeled scales, which help them move under the soil.
They grow to around 12 inches (31cm) in body length.
Red-bellied snakes live in gardens, woodlands, flowerbeds, and wetlands, hiding under rocks and logs, where they eat slugs and earthworms.
How To Identify A Snake Or Worm?
Snakes and worms are found throughout the world, making their way around by wriggling and slithering with long cylindrical-shaped bodies. Worms vary greatly in size, but the snakes that look like worms tend to be larger in the United States.
One of the easiest ways to differentiate between a snake and a worm is to look at the body. While coloration may be similar in some species, snakes have scales where worms tend to have segmented bodies and can breathe through their skin.
The snakes that look like worms tend to search for moist soil, while the worms excrete mucus, which keeps them moist and helps them to breathe.
The snakes that look like worms are mostly blind and rely on their tongues, which they flick in and out, to taste the air and find prey. They also rely on vibrations, while the worms use a number of sensory organs.
Earthworms have light and touch-sensitive cells on the front f their bodies to help them navigate.
Earthworms tend to be a pink/gray color, while the snakes that look like worms can range from tan to dark brown and black.
Are They Venomous?
The snakes that look like worms are non-venomous snakes and are not dangerous to humans. Many will try and bite, which will be superficial with their tiny mouths and teeth. Some will push the tip of their tail into your hand as a defense mechanism, also not dangerous.
They can be handled and relocated safely, but some do give off a foul odor, used to deter predators.
What Do They Eat?
The snakes that look like worms tend to eat a varied diet, depending on the species. Their diets range from earthworms and centipedes to slugs, small insects, insect and slug eggs, and larvae.
If you are worried the worm you found in your yard is actually a snake, the good news is that the snakes that look like worms are harmless to humans and don’t tend to come inside the home. They hide during the day and come out at night, so they are seldom encountered.
If you are worried, you can relocate one of these snakes safely by hand without any concerns, as long as you are gentle.