An Annotated Bibliography for the Texas populations of the Smooth Green Snake (Liochlorophis vernalis)

[These bibliographies and their annotations are an on-going project. I have many comments on papers that I have not yet posted but I will attempt to attend to this task as time allows. Comments proffered in the annotations are strictly my own opinions and should be taken as such. If you wish to comment or supply additional references that I have overlooked, you may contact me via E-mail. Xerox or PDF copies of papers in more difficult to obtain journals are highly welcomed. To correspond with me, click here.  Thanks for reading, Tom Lott ]


Ashton, R. E. 1976. Endangered and threatened amphibians and reptiles in the United States. Soc. Stud. Amphib. Rept. Herp. Circular (5): 1-65. [Recommended "protection" for this form in Texas. Lists "current problem," as "habitat destruction," "B. Urbanization, road building, etc." Current Protection: (as of 1976) "none," Recommendation: "E. Consideration of a species’ habitat requirements when developing land or watershed and what impact such development will have on existing populations." And "F. A species that should be monitored within the state and if current trends of land use or habitat destruction continue, one of the above criteria should be enacted." {i.e., a) total protection a la ESA, b) total state level protection of species and its required habitat {emphasis mine}, and/or c) "Regulation of collection of the species via bag or possession limits, collecting season."} Interestingly, when Opheodrys vernalis was finally granted "protection" at the state level [not in 1977], only option "C" was considered, totally outlawing collection, but failing to address any of the habitat provisions above. – TEL]

Bailey, V. 1905. Biological Survey of Texas. North Am. Fauna 25: 1-222.

Blair, W. F. 1958c. Distributional patterns of vertebrates in the southwestern United States in relation to past and present environments. In Zoogeography, ed. C. L. Hubbs, 433-68. Washington, D. C.: AAAS Publication (51).

Brown, B. C. 1950. An annotated check list of the reptiles and amphibians of Texas. Waco: Baylor University Studies. [In the introduction, lists Opheodrys vernalis among "doubtful species," ". . . omitted from the check list for lack of sufficient evidence of their natural occurrence in the state." Later, under the account for O. aestivus, he remarks: "The closely related Opheodrys vernalis has on various occasions been reported from Texas. However, Grobman [1941] has effectively proved these records invalid." Even though Brown recognizes Albert J. Kirn in his acknowledgements, no mention is made of Kirn’s alleged discovery of 2-3 specimens of O. vernalis, collected by Gabriel Marnock at Helotes, in the collection of St. Mary’s University in San Antonio. Ironically, Brown’s manuscript was originally submitted as an M. S. thesis to the Texas A&M College under the direction of William B. Davis, who had reported a specimen of O. vernalis from Austin County, Texas in 1949. – TEL]

Conant, R. 1958. A field guide to reptiles and amphibians of the United States and Canada east of the 100th meridian. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Co.

Conant, R. 1975. A field guide to the reptiles and amphibians: Eastern and central North America. 2nd edition. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Co. [States that, though this is generally an upland snake, it occupies lowlands in southeastern Texas (p. 185). Cites habitat destruction as a cause of the fragmented distribution of western populations. "Members of the disjunct population in the grasslands of se. Texas may be light brown with an olive wash instead of green" (p. 186). The range map (#134) depicts a fairly large stippled area in se. Texas from Matagorda Bay to almost the Sabine estuary, with stippled dots at the panhandle locality (Armstrong County) and in southern New Mexico near Las Cruces. – TEL]

Conant, R and J. T. Collins. 1991. A field guide to the reptiles and amphibians: Eastern and central North America. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Co.

Conant, R and J. T. Collins. 1998. A field guide to the reptiles and amphibians: Eastern and central North America. 3rd edition (expanded) Boston: Houghton Mifflin Co.

Cope, E. D. 1900. The crocodilians, lizards, and snakes of North America. Annu. Rept. U.S. Natl. Mus. 1898: 155-1294.

Davenport, J. W. 1943. Field book of the snakes of Bexar County, Texas, and vicinity. San Antonio: Witte Memorial Museum. ["This snake is not considered a native of this part of the country but Mr. A. J. Kirn found three pickled specimens of O. vernalis in the collection of specimens by the late Gabriel Marnoch [sic], labeled Helotes, Texas. Several collectors report having seen this snake in the Helotes region but none have been brought into the [reptile] garden." The "Reptile Garden" was associated with the Witte Memorial Museum in San Antonio. – TEL]

Davis, W. B. 1949. The smooth green snake in Texas. Copeia 1949(3): 233.

Davis, W. B. 1953. Another record of the smooth green snake in Texas. Herpetologica 9(2): 165.

Dixon, J. R. 1987. Amphibians and reptiles of Texas. W. L. Moody, Jr., Nat. Hist. Ser. 8. College Station: Texas A&M University Press.

Dixon, J. R. 1993. Supplement to the literature for the Amphibians and reptiles of Texas. 1987. Smithson. Herpetol. Info. Serv. 94: 1-43.

Dixon, J. R. 2000. Amphibians and reptiles of Texas. 2nd Ed. W. L. Moody, Jr., Nat. Hist. Ser. 25. College Station: Texas A&M University Press.

Dundee, H.A. and D.A. Rossman. 1989. The amphibians and reptiles of Louisiana. Baton Rouge: Louisiana State Univ. Press. [Includes no reference to L. vernalis – TEL]

Flores-Villela, O. 1993. Herpetofauna Mexicana. Carnegie Mus. Nat. Hist. Spec. Publ. (17):1-72.

Garman, S. W. 1892. On Texas reptiles. Bull. Essex Inst. 24: 1-12.

Garrett, J. M. and D. G. Barker. 1987. A field guide to the reptiles and amphibians of Texas. Austin: Texas Monthly Press.

Gehlbach, F. R., K. A. Arnold, K. Culbertson, D. J. Schmidly, C. Hubbs, and R. A. Thomas. 1975. TOES watch-list of endangered, threatened, and peripheral vertebrates of Texas. Tex. Org. Endang. Species Publ. 1: 1-12.

Gloyd, H. K. 1944. Texas snakes. Tex. Geogr. 8: 1-18.

Grace, J. W. 1980. Annotated checklist of the amphibians and reptiles Guadalupe Mountains National Park, Texas. Carlsbad Caverns Nat. Hist. Assn. [Under "possible species": "Smooth Green Snake, Opheodrys vernalis. Skeletal remains from upper west side, sighting from McKittrick Canyon; to be expected at intermediate elevations; secretive, color blends with vegetation." – TEL]

Grobman, A. B. 1941. A contribution to the knowledge of variation in Opheodrys vernalis (Harlan), with the description of a new subspecies. Misc. Publ. Mus. Zool. Univ. Mich. 50: 1-38.

Grobman, A. B. 1950a. The problem of the natural range of a species. Copeia 1950(3): 231-32.

Grobman, A. B. 1992. Metamerism in the snake Opheodrys vernalis, with a description of a new subspecies. J. Herpetol. 26(2): 175-86.

Grobman, A. B. 1992. On races, clines, and common names in Opheodrys. Herpetol. Rev. 23(1): 14-15.

Huang, T. T., S. R. Lewis, and B. S. Lucas III. 1975. Venomous snakes. In Dangerous Plants, Snakes, arthropods, and marine life in Texas. 123-42. Washington, D.C.: U.S. Department of Health, Education, and Welfare.

Logan, L. E., and C. C. Beck. 1979. The Quarternary vertebrate fauna of Upper Sloth Cave, Guadalupe Mountains National Park, Texas. Natl. Park Serv. Trans. Proc. Ser. 4: 141-58.

McClure, W. L. 1969. A new record of Opheodrys vernalis blanchardi in Texas. Southwest. Nat. 14(1): 129.

Mecham, J. S. 1979. The biogeographical relationships of the amphibians and reptiles of the Guadalupe Mountains. Nat. Park Serv. Trans. Proc. Ser. 4: 169-79.

Oldham, J. C., and H. M. Smith. 1991. The generic status of the smooth green snake Opheodrys vernalis. Bull. Md. Herpetol. Soc. 27(4): 201-15.

Owen, J. G. 1989. Patterns of herpetofaunal species richness: Relation to temperature, precipitation, and variance in elevation. J. Biogeogr. 16: 141-50.

Owen, J. G., and J. R. Dixon. 1989. An ecogeographic analysis of the herpetofauna of Texas. Southwest. Nat. 34(2): 165-80.

Raun, G. G. 1965b. A guide to Texas snakes. Tex. Mem. Mus. Notes 9. ["It seems much out of habitat in Texas. . . . Texas distribution: Area 2 (reported from Ellis, Bosque, Austin, and Matagorda counties), rare, isolated populations. Remarks: could easily be confused with the green phase of the racer. Additional records of this snake in Texas are much to be desired." It should be pointed out, though, that specimens of Coluber constrictor of a size comparable to that of O. vernalis would typically still retain the blotched juvenile pattern on a non-green (or non-brown) ground coloration. – TEL]

Radaj, R. H. 1981. Life history notes. Opheodrys v. vernalis (Smooth Green Snake). Reproduction. Herpetol. Rev. 12(3): 80. [Not on Texas specimens, but cited by Tennant (1984) to show that brown-colored specimens are occasionally found in clutches throughout the range of the species. – TEL]

Smith, H. M., and H. K. Buechner. 1947. The influence of the Balcones Escarpment on the distribution of amphibians and reptiles in Texas. Bull. Chi. Acad. Sci. 8(1): 1-16.

Stebbins, R. C. 1966. A field guide to western reptiles and amphibians. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Co.

Tanner, W.W. 1985. Snakes of western Chihuahua. Great Basin Nat. 45: 615-676.

Tennant, A. 1984. The snakes of Texas. Austin: Texas Monthly Press. [Under "abundance," . . . in Texas O. v. blanchardi is known from fewer than 10 specimens. All were collected on the coastal plain of Austin, Chambers, Harris and Matagorda counties, where the snakes have now been almost extirpated, according to Conant (1975), "because of the destruction of [their moist, shortgrass] habitats by agriculture and other human activities." States that Texas specimens have ranged from >10" to slightly >15" in length. Habitat: ". . . the Gulf coastal plains relic O. v. blanchardi occupy a mesic prairie community covered with native short grasses similar to the moist, meadowland macrohabitat preferred everywhere in this animal’s range." Behavior: "Most O. v. blanchardi have been found in Texas only after the high water of a severe storm or hurricane has covered wide areas of low-lying coastal plain, however, forcing these big-eyed little reptiles from the security of the burrows and thick vegetation in which they ordinarily hide: near Angleton two smooth greens {apparently Werler’s 1961 specimens} were seen crawling over clumps of grass on one of the few sections of land not covered by local floodwaters, while in Matagorda County another was discovered taking refuge on a slightly elevated road running through a grassy prairie that had just been inundated by heavy rain." Suggests, referring to Radaj (1981) on a clutch from the northern portion of the range, that an olive-brown color phase of this species is "apparently particularly likely to occur among the Texas population." The county map for Texas shows dots (designating literature records or museum specimens) for Austin, Chambers, and Matagorda counties, while Hartley and Harris counties sport X’s, indicating "confirmed observational record," even though Worthington’s (1973) Harris County record had been published eleven years earlier. – TEL]

Tennant, A. 1985. A field guide to Texas snakes. Austin: Texas Monthly Press.

Tennant, A. 1998. A field guide to Texas snakes. 2nd edition. Houston: Gulf Publishing.

Tiller, W. K., ed. 1960. Texas Herpetological Society News Letter (November, 1960, spirit copy.), p. 1-5. [Includes the tabulation of field collection results from the spring field meeting of the society at the Traylor Ranch, near Point Comfort, Calhoun County, Texas on April 30—May 1, 1960. A total of 328 specimens representing 43 species of herps were collected in an area not distant from other Opheodrys vernalis records (and in similar habitat). Although no O. vernalis were collected, the 129 member group did manage to find a single specimen of another similarly rare coastal species, Cemophora coccinea. – TEL]

Trauth, S.E., H.W. Robison, and M.V. Plummer. 2004. The amphibians and reptiles of Arkansas. Fayetteville: Univ. of Arkansas Press. [Under "Amphibian and Reptile Species Erroneously Reported from Arkansas," state that "The distributional limits of several species in neighboring states may actually extend into Arkansas, but Arkansas specimens have not been unequivocally verified. . . . Liopeltis vernalis . . . (Dellinger and Black, 1938)." – TEL]

Van Devender, T.R. and C.H. Lowe, Jr. 1977. Amphibians and reptiles of Yepomara, Chihuahua, Mexico. J. Herpetol. 11:41-50. ["Opheodrys vernalis blanchardi Grobman (Western green snake). Locality: 2.6 km N Pedernales or 38.4 km SE Guerrero on Mexico 16, 2185 m (UAZ 34416). A single specimen of O. vernalis was collected in plains grassland on the continental divide. This is the first record for the state of Chihuahua, and for Mexico. The nearest O. vernalis population known is in the Sacramento Mountains of New Mexico, northeast of El Paso, Texas, some 480 km to the northeast (MALB 769-770: NW Ruidoso). The disjunct populations of O. vernalis in Chihuahua and New Mexico suggest that these may be relicts of the Wisconsin glacial period when conditions were cooler and/or moister, and mesic vegetation more continuous between the Rocky Mountains and the Sierre Madre Occidental. This record of dispersal is especially interesting because O. vernalis is a terrestrial, non-riparian species." – TEL]

Vermersch, T.G. and R.E. Kuntz. 1986. Snakes of South Central Texas. Eakin Press, Austin, Texas.

Walley, H. D. 2003. Liochlorophis, L. vernalis. Cat. Am. Amphib. Rept. 776.1-776.13. [An important update on the literature of this species, although it contains little new information concerning the status of Texas populations except for "A.B. Grobman (per. comm..) suggested that the Texas isolates were established via human agency . . .," indicating that Grobman still adheres to his original opinion. Provides a range map showing the four vouchered localities in Texas connected by a narrow shaded band, and an unspecified fossil record from central Texas (but not the Guadalupe Mountains). Also cites evidence provided in an abstract by Chiszar et al (1996) that Grobman’s subspecies of this taxon may, in fact, be valid rather than clinal extremes as has been previously suggested. – TEL]

Ward, R., E. G. Zimmerman, and T. L. King. 1990. Multivariate analyses of terrestrial reptile distribution in Texas: An alternate view. Southwest Nat 35(4): 441-45.

Webb, R.G. 1970. Reptiles of Oklahoma. Stovall Mus. Publ., Norman, Oklahoma.  [Under the heading "Unverified, Problematical, and Probable Species," states that, "Aside from KU 2357 [a specimen from ‘Southern Oklahoma,’ described as a single ‘soft, dark colored male having 129 ventrals’ in the collection of the University of Kansas], no other smooth green snakes have been discovered in Oklahoma." – TEL]

 Werler, J. E., ed. 1962. Texas Herpetological Society News Letter (March, 1962, mimeo.), p. 1-13. [Under "news and notes," page 4, Werler describes finding large concentrations of snakes on high ground near Angleton, TX, as a result of flooding associated with Hurricane Carla the previous fall. Among them were three (?) Opheodrys vernalis. – TEL]

Worthington, R. D. 1973. Remarks on the distribution of the smooth green snake, Opheodrys vernalis blanchardi Grobman, in Texas. Southwest Nat. 18(3): 344-46.

Wright, A. H., and A. A. Wright. 1952. List of the snakes of the United States and Canada by states and provinces. Am. Midl. Nat. 48(3): 574-603.

Wright, A. H., and A. A. Wright. 1957. Handbook of snakes of the United States and Canada. Ithaca, N. Y.: Comstock Publishing Co. ["The very puzzling records from Texas have been generally discredited. Strecker (Tex., 1915) summarized thus: ‘The smooth-scaled green snake has been reported from only two widely separated localities, i.e., Washburn, Armstrong County (Bailey), and Deming’s Bridge, Matagorda County (Garman).’ Recently Davis has given a different aspect to this question: ‘the status of Opheodrys vernalis in Texas is again brought to attention by the capture of a male specimen 2 1/2 miles west of Sealey, Austin County, on Apr. 23, 1949. . . . Because of this recent capture of vernalis, I am inclined to accept the records from Basque [sic, error is in the Wrights’ transcription as Davis’ note has the correct spelling, Bosque], Ellis and Matagorda counties as authentic.’" "Letter from Kirn, Somerset, Tex., May 6, 1946: ‘Did I ever tell you that there are two smooth-scaled snakes, Opheodrys v. blanchardi (?) in the collection at St. Mary’s Univ., San Antonio? They are from the Marnock collection, and the jar is labeled "Green snakes, Helotes." There is no label on the specimens.’" – TEL]

Yarrow, H. C. 1882. Checklist of North American Reptilia and Batrachia with catalogue of specimens in the U.S. National Museum. Bull. U.S. Natl. Mus. 24: 1-249.

On-line references

Herps of Texas   [Range map {4 counties} only – TEL]

Texas Parks & Wildlife Threatened and Endangered species list.  [No info other than "Threatened" status. – TEL]

CNAH Lichlorophis page  [Provides comments on the acceptance of genus name and a photograph of a South Dakota specimen. – TEL]

Texas Cooperative Wildlife Collection, Department of Wildlife Fisheries and Sciences, Division of Amphibians and Reptiles, County Records  [Erroneously [?] lists species as having been found in Cameron County, TX. – TEL]




All text, images, sound bites, etc., are Tom Lott (2007) unless indicated otherwise.