MORPHOLOGY, REPRODUCTION, SEASONAL ACTIVITY AND HABITAT USE OF A NORTHERN POPULATION OF THE SMOOTH GREENSNAKE (OPHEODRYS VERNALIS)

  • Pamela L. Rutherford
  • Nicholas A. Cairns
Keywords: cool-climate, Manitoba, Opheodrys vernalis, sexual size dimorphism

Abstract

The Smooth Greensnake (Opheodrys vernalis) is a small, slender, oviparous, colubrid snake that is widely distributed in North America. Nonetheless, there have been few studies on this species, and little is known about Canadian populations. The objective of this study was to examine morphology, reproduction, seasonal activity and habitat use of a northern population of the Smooth Greensnake. Individuals were captured during the summers of 2007-2010 in southwestern Manitoba, Canada. Females were larger and relatively heavier than males, but clutch size did not consistently increase with body size. In addition, 59% (on average) of available adult females were gravid in any given year, suggesting that females may not reproduce each year. Males had relatively longer heads and longer tails than females. Males were more common in early August; otherwise, females were more common. The peak of male activity in August suggests that fall mating might occur in this species, but this was not confirmed. Finally, Smooth Greensnakes were most commonly found in grassland, and there were no differences in habitat use between the sexes. Further research on northern populations of Smooth Greensnakes would provide valuable information on this little-studied species.

Published
2020-04-15