You are here » home advanced search search results Carphophis amoenus

Carphophis amoenus (SAY, 1825)

IUCN Red List - Carphophis amoenus - Least Concern, LC

Can you confirm these amateur observations of Carphophis amoenus?

Add your own observation of
Carphophis amoenus »

Find more photos by Google images search: Google images

Higher TaxaColubridae (Dipsadinae), Colubroidea, Caenophidia, Alethinophidia, Serpentes, Squamata (snakes)
SubspeciesCarphophis amoenus amoenus (SAY 1825)
Carphophis amoenus helenae (KENNICOTT 1859) 
Common NamesE: amoenus: Eastern Worm Snake
helenae: Midwestern Wormsnake
G: Wurmschlange 
SynonymColuber amoenus SAY 1825: 237
Calamaria amoena — SCHLEGEL 1837: 130 (fide DUMÉRIL & BIBRON 1854)
Celata amoena — BAIRD & GIRARD 1853 (fide DUMÉRIL & BIBRON 1854)
Carphophis amoenus — DUMÉRIL & BIBRON 1854: 131
Carphophis amoena — GARMAN 1884: 100
Carphophis amoenus amoenus — CONANT & COLLINS 1991: 180
Carphophis amoenus amoenus — CROTHER 2000: 57
Carphophis amoenus amoenus — TENNANT & BARTLETT 2000: 82
Carphophis amoenus amoenus — CROTHER et al. 2012
Carphophis amoenus — WALLACH et al. 2014: 149
Carphophis amoenus amoenus — GUYER et al. 2018

Carphophis amoenus helenae (KENNICOTT 1859)
Celuta helenae KENNICOTT 1859: 100
Carphophis amoena var. Helenae — JAN 1865
Carphophis helenae — GARMAN 1884: 100
Carphophis amoena helenae — CONANT 1938
Carphophis amoenus helenae — CONANT & COLLINS 1991: 181
Carphophis amoenus helenae — CROTHER 2000: 57
Carphophis amoenus helenae — TENNANT & BARTLETT 2000: 83
Carphophis amoenus helenae — CROTHER et al. 2012
Carphophis amoenus helenae — GUYER et al. 2018 
DistributionUSA (Arkansas ?, E Missouri, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Nebraska, N Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia, West Virginia, Kentucky, S Illinois, S Indiana, S Ohio, Delaware, New Jersey, Maryland, Pennsylvania, SE New York, Connecticut)

Type locality: Pennsylvania

helenae: Ohio, Kentucky, Mississippi, Illinois, Alabama, etc.; Type locality: “Monticello, Miss., [...], Southern Illinois (abundant in the woods)”;  
TypesHolotype: unlocated (neither ANSP nor USNM), a 261 mm specimen.
Syntypes: UMMZ 3779, USNM 131708, USNM 2182, 2183 [helenae] 
DiagnosisDEFINITION (genus). Snakes of the genus Carphophis are slender, cylindrical, relatively short (maximum total length 39.1 cm, Conant and Collins 1998), terrestrial, semifossorial, worm and slug predators. Each trunk vertebra has a long, narrow centrum with a long, low neural arch lacking epizygapophysial spines; a long, low neural spine; a normally spatulate (broad and round) to cuneate (as opposed to oblanceolate) haemal keel; and short, thick, flattened, prezygapophyseal accessory processes. Those anterior have a well developed hypophysis. In the skull, the premaxilla is enlarged, the nasal bones arc expanded dorsally, and the quadrate is shortened. Dorsally, the body is uniform gray, gray-brown, gray-violet or dark brown; juveniles are darker than adults. The unpatterned venter is pinkish to salmon-colored, with the pigment extending upward onto the lower sides. The head is small and depressed, and not wider than the neck. It is bluntly pointed with small black or violet eyes, and lacks any markings. The tail is short, and ends in a blunt, spine-like scale. Body scales are smooth, pitless, and may be somewhat opalescent. They normally lie in 13 rows throughout, but rarely occur in 14 or 15 rows near the vent. Beneath are 109-150 ventrals, 21—41 subcaudals in two rows, and a divided cloacal scute. Dorsal head scales include 1 rostral; either 2 separate internasals, or they are fused with the prefrontal scales; 2 prefrontals (which enter the orbit); I large frontal; two small supraoculars; and two parietal scales. Lateral head scales present are 1 nasal with a nearly medial naris, I elongated loreal (which enters the orbit), 0 (or rarely 1) preocular, 1 (rarely 2) postocular, 1+1-3 temporals, 5-6 supralabials, and 6 (5-7) infralabials. No gular scales are present between the pair of posterior chin shields and the ventral scutes. The single, undivided hemipenis has a forked sulcus spermali- cus, a calyculate crown, numerous small spines along the shaft, and three large basal hooks. Average tooth counts and ranges are as follows: maxilla 10- 11 (9-12), dentary 16-17 (14-23), palatine 13-14 (10-17), and pterygoid 15-18 (14-19). The maxillary and mandibular teeth are small, pointed, and subequal in length. (Ernst 2003).

Comparisons: C. amoenus with pale ventral pigmentantion extending dorsally to body scale row 1 or 2; dorsal coloration tan to dark or chestnut brown. In vermis, the pale ventral pigmentation extends dorsally to body scale row 3; the dorsal coloration is dark gray to gray-violet. (Ernst 2003). 
CommentEtymology: Carphophis amoenus helenae has been named after Miss Helen Teunison, apparently one of the collectors of the types.

Type species: Coluber amoenus SAY 1825: 237 is the type species of the genus Carphophis GERVAIS in D’ORBIGNY 1843. 
EtymologyThe genus name Carphophis is derived from the Greek words karphos, meaning a dry particle or twig and referring to a woodland habitat, and ophis, a snake.

C. aemonus is named after Latin “amoenus” = pleasing or lovely, possibly after the shiny pattern or the harmless behavior.

Carphophis amoenus helenae has been named after Miss Helen Teunison, apparently one of the collectors of the types. 
  • Burt, Charles E. 1933. A contribution to the herpetology of Kentucky. American Midland Naturalist 14 (6): 669-679 - get paper here
  • Camper, Jeffrey D. 2019. The Reptiles of South Carolina. University of South Carolina Press, 288 pp. [review in Copeia 107 (3): 590, 2019] - get paper here
  • Clark, Donald R., Jr. 1968. A proposal of specific status for the western worm snake, Carphophis amoenus vermis (Kennicott). Herpetologica 24 (2): 104-112 - get paper here
  • Conant, Roger 1938. The Reptiles of Ohio. American Midland Naturalist 20 (1): 1-200 - get paper here
  • Conant,R. & Collins,J.T. 1991. A Field Guide to Reptiles and Amphibians of Eastern/Central North America, 3rd ed. Houghton Mifflin (Boston/New York), xx + 450 p.
  • Crother, B. I. 2000. Scientific and standard English names of amphibians and reptiles of North America north of Mexico, with comments regarding confidence in our understanding. Herpetological Circular 29: 1-82
  • Crother, B. I. (ed.) 2012. Standard Common and Current Scientific Names for North American Amphibians, Turtles, Reptiles, and Crocodilians, Seventh Edition. Herpetological Circular 39: 1-92
  • Dundee, H.A., & Rossman, D.A. 1989. The amphibians and reptiles of Louisiana. Louisiana St. Univ. Press, Baton Rouge 300 pp.
  • Dury, R. 1932. Notes on Reptiles and Amphibians From Clifty Falls State Park, Jefferson County, Indiana. Proc. Jr. Soc. Nat. Hist. Cincinnati 3 (2): 23-26
  • Ernst, C.H., & Barbour, R.W. 1989. Snakes of eastern North America. George Mason Univ. Press, Fairfax, VA 282 pp.
  • Ernst, C.H.; Orr, J.M. & Creque, T.R. 2003. Carphophis Gervais Wormsnakes. Catalogue of American Amphibians and Reptiles (773): 1-4 - get paper here
  • Ferguson, D.E. & H.R. Bancroft 1957. Distribution of Carphophis amoenus in Mississippi Herpetologica 13 (3): 245 - get paper here
  • Fleming, M & Pierson, T W 2018. Geographic Distribution: Carphophis amoenus (Common Wormsnake). Herpetological Review 49 (3): 505 - get paper here
  • Foster, N. & Brown, L. 2012. Geographic distribution: Carphophis amoenus (eastern wormsnake). Herpetological Review 43: 447 - get paper here
  • Foster, Nicole and Mary Christensen. 2014. Geographic Distribution: Carphophis amoenus (common wormsnake). Herpetological Review 45 (3): 464 - get paper here
  • Garman,Samuel 1884. The reptiles and batrachians of North America. Mem. Mus. comp. Zool, Cambridge (Massachusetts), 8 (3): xxxiv + 185 pp. [1883] [CNAH reprint 10] - get paper here
  • Gibson, Jason D. & Randy Ferguson 2018. Carphophis amoenus amoenus (Eastern Wormsnake). Catesbeiana 38 (2): 114 - get paper here
  • Godwin, C D & Moore, A J; 2018. Geographic Distribution: Carphophis amoenus helenae (Midwestern Wormsnake). Herpetological Review 49 (4): 717 - get paper here
  • Gray, Brian S. 2014. Carphophis amoenus amoenus (eastern wormsnake) longevity. Herpetological Review 45 (2): 256 - get paper here
  • Green, N.B., & Pauley, T.K. 1987. Amphibians and reptiles in West Virginia. Univ. of Pittsburgh Press, Pittsburgh, 241 pp.
  • GRISNIK, M., AND R. HANSCOM 2020. New County Records for Reptiles and Amphibians from Middle Tennessee’s Cumberland Plateau. Herpetological Review 51: 282-284.
  • Guyer, Craig; Mark A. Bailey, and Robert H. Mount 2018. Lizards and snakes of Alabama. University of Alabama Press, 397 pp. - get paper here
  • Hamed, M. Kevin 2017. Geographic Distribution: Carphophis amoenus (Eastern Worm Snake). Herpetological Review 48 (1): 127 - get paper here
  • Harris Jr., H.S. 1968. Additional albino amphibians and reptiles from Maryland. Bull. Maryland Herp. Soc. 4 (4): 88 - get paper here
  • Harris, H.S., Jr. 2006. Translucent Skin/Scales in Carphophis amoenus amoenus Bull. Maryland Herpetol. Soc., 42(4): 188-189. - get paper here
  • Harris, H.S., Jr. 2010. Fall mating Observation in the Eastern Wormsnake, Carphophis amoenus amoenus, in Maryland Bull. Maryland Herpetol. Soc., 46(1-4): 20. - get paper here
  • Irwin, Kelly J. 2004. Arkansas Snake Guide. Arkansas Game & Fish Commission, Little Rock, 50 pp.
  • Jan, G. 1865. Iconographie générale des ophidiens. 12. Livraison. J.B. Bailière et Fils, Paris - get paper here
  • Jensen, John B.; Carlos D. Camp, Whit Gibbons, & Matt J. Elliott 2008. Amphibians and reptiles of Georgia. University of Georgia Press, 575 pp.
  • Jones, Kara S. 2014. Carphophis amoenus (eastern worm snake) association with ants. Herpetological Review 45 (4): 705-706 - get paper here
  • Kapfer, Joshua M. and Coleman Slone. 2011. Carphophis amoenus (eastern wormsnake) defensive behavior. Herpetological Review 42 (3): 437 - get paper here
  • Kennicott, R. 1859. Notes on Coluber calligaster of Say, and a description of a new species of Serpents in the collection of the north Western University of Evanston,Ill. Proc. Acad. Nat. Sci. Philadelphia 11: 98-100 - get paper here
  • King, Richard B.; Oldham, Michael J.; Weller, Wayne F.; Wynn, Douglas. 1997. Historic and current amphibian and reptile distributions in the Island Region of Western Lake Erie. American Midland Naturalist 138(1):153-173 - get paper here
  • Klueh, Sarabeth and Jason Mirtl. 2013. Geographic Distribution: Carphophis amoenus helenae (midwestern wormsnake). Herpetological Review 44 (2): 274 - get paper here
  • Linzey, D.W., & Clifford, M.J. 1981. Snakes of Virgina. Univ. Press of Virginia, Charlottesville 159 pp.
  • Lynch, J.D. 1985. Annotated checklist of the amphibians and reptiles of Nebraska. Nebraska Acad. of Sci., Lincoln, Trans. 13: 33-57.
  • Manis, C., Desrochers, D. & Adams, J. K. 2012. Geographic distribution: Carphophis amoenus (eastern wormsnake). Herpetological Review 43: 447 - get paper here
  • MCLEOD, D. S., A. M. CHILDS, AND D. HORR 2020. Geographic Distribution: Carphophis amoenus (Eastern Worm Snake). USA: Virginia: Giles Co. Herpetological Review 51: 77-78.
  • Mehrtens, J.M. 1987. Living snakes of the world in color. Sterling Publ. Co., hic., New York, NY: 480 pp.
  • Mitchell, J. C. & Reay, K.K. 1999. Atlas of amphibians and reptiles in Virginia. Specialty Publication 1, VA Dept of Game and Fisheries, 122 pp. - get paper here
  • Mitchell, J.C. 1994. The reptiles of Virginia. Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries, ca. 350 pp.
  • Muñoz, D.J. 2018. Geographic Distribution: Carphophis amoenus (Eastern Wormsnake). Herpetological Review 49 (1): 74. - get paper here
  • Nelson, Stephen K. and Joseph T. Altobelli. 2015. Geographic Distribution: Carphophis amoenus amoenus (eastern wormsnake). Herpetological Review 46 (1): 61 - get paper here
  • Palmer, W.M. & Braswell, A.L. 1995. Reptiles of North Carolina. Univ. North Carolina Press
  • Pyron, R.Alexander; Frank T. Burbrink 2009. Neogene diversification and taxonomic stability in the snake tribe Lampropeltini (Serpentes: Colubridae). Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution 52 (2): 524-529 - get paper here
  • Roberts, B E; Gossman, S J; Palis, J G; Wendling, R E & Gootee, B A; 2018. Carphophis amoenus (Common Wormsnake) Climbing behavior. Herpetological Review 49 (4): 749-750 - get paper here
  • Russell, K.R. & H.G. Hanlin 1999. Aspects of the Ecology of Worm Snakes (Carphophis amoenus) Associated with Small Isolated Wetlands in South Carolina Journal of Herpetology 33 (2): 339-344. - get paper here
  • Say, T. 1824. Description of three new species of Coluber, inhabiting the United States. J. Acad. Nat. Sci. Philadelphia 4 (2): 237-242 - get paper here
  • Schlauch, Frederick C. 1967. The Snakes of Long Island. Bull. Maryland Herp. Soc. 3 (2): 28 - get paper here
  • SMITH, DUSTIN C.; R. GRAHAM REYNOLDS; KATHERINE L. HAGEN 2021. Snakes on a Path: Ecology of a North Carolina Piedmont Snake Community. Herpetological Review 52 (3): 473–481
  • Tennant, A. 2003. Snakes of North America - Eastern and Central Regions, revised edition. Lone Star Books, 605 pp.
  • Tennant, A. & Bartlett, R.D. 2000. Snakes of North America - Eastern and Central Regions. Gulf Publishing, Houston, TX, 588 pp.
  • Terrell, Vanessa C., Jaimie L. Klemish, Nathan J. Engbecht, John A. May, Peter J. Lannoo, Rochelle M. Stiles, and Michael J. Lannoo. 2014. Amphibian and reptile colonization of reclaimed coal spoil grasslands. The Journal of North American Herpetology 2014(1):59-68 - get paper here
  • Viosca, Percy, Jr 1931. Amphibians and Reptiles of Louisiana. Southern Biological Supply Co. Price List No. 20, Herpetology : 1-12
  • Wallach, Van; Kenneth L. Williams , Jeff Boundy 2014. Snakes of the World: A Catalogue of Living and Extinct Species. [type catalogue] Taylor and Francis, CRC Press, 1237 pp.
  • Wright, A. 1986. Notes on defensive postures in captive specimens of the Western worm snake Carphophis amoenus vermis (Kennicott). Litteratura Serpentium 6 (5): 167-170 - get paper here
  • Wynn, D.E. & Moody, S.M. 2006. Ohio Turtle, Lizard, and Snake Atlas. Ohio Biological Survey, 80 pp.
External links  
Is it interesting? Share with others:

As link to this species use URL address:

without field 'search_param'. Field 'search_param' is used for browsing search result.

Please submit feedback about this entry to the curator