Worm Snake

Yes, worms that look like snakes do exist. Although tinier that any snake you will ever see, worm snakes have the same smooth shiny scales, pointed tail and beady eyes as snake. Worm snake eyes are much smaller of course, but their bodies lare ight to dark brown on top and pink to white underneath, just like some snakes. Young worm snakes usually resemble adults in color.

Worm snakes can grow up to 13 inches, but they usually remain very thin. They live underground or they may hide under logs, rocks, leaf litter, and other debris. According to the Savannah River Ecology Laboratory, “Worm snakes are seldom found far from forested habitats and are generally most common in deciduous woodlands. In the Coastal Plain, this species is apparently most common in forests adjacent to wetlands or cypress swamps.”

Eastern worm snakes are found in the eastern U.S., from southern New England to central Georgia and west to the Mississippi River. West of the Mississippi this species is replaced by the similar western worm snake (Carphophis vermis). The eastern species is most common in the Piedmont but is also found in smaller numbers in the mountains and Coastal Plain of South Carolina. It is absent from most of the Coastal Plain of Georgia.

Now, the oddest thing about worm snakes is their diet. They do not eat organic matter like earthworms, they actually feed almost exclusively on earthworms, but these creatures have a number of enemies themselves. They may be eaten by birds, mammals, and other snakes.

Worm snakes may be dangerous to earthworms, but they are harmless to humans. Although unlikely, but if you ever do come across a worm snake, it will press its pointed tail tip against a perceived predator, but this is as scary as the worms defense mechanism will get.

For more information about worm snakes and to view images, visit the Savannah River Ecology Laboratory at www.uga.edu/srelherp/snakes/caramo.htm.

Why Worm Snakes are Harmful to the Earth

Worm snakes eat earthworms. Earthworms are crucial to the survival of the earth’s plants, flowers, trees, and crops. Without them, the earth’s trees, plants, fruits, and vegetables would die. Worms do several things for the earth. They aerate the soil, which means they dig tunnels in the soil, which allows air to get to the plant roots. Worms also eat organic matter, digest it, and excrete the digested material. This digested material is called castings. The castings are rich with phosphorus, calcium, and potassium.

Worm castings are so valuable and ten times richer in nutrients that commercial topsoil, that many gardeners and farmers use the composting method to fertilize plants and crops. Worm castings also help create channels within the layers of the earth’s soil, which helps to hold water better and keep moisture in the soil longer.

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