Yikes! A Snake
Written by Marcus Heerdt
November 18, 2019

Yikes! A Snake!

When I see a snake, I jump straight into the air. Thankfully, the majority of the snakes that inhabit the Black Hills and surrounding areas are non-venomous.

This summer, I saw a snake I had never seen before. I was out hiking northeast of Calamity Peak when I saw the greenest snake ever. It was in the middle of an old forest service road and did not move so I was able to get a picture of it. Through some research, I learned that it was a Smooth Greensnake (Opheodrys vernalis) and any sightings of this specific snake are to be reported to the South Dakota Game, Fish, and Parks. I completed the Rare Animal Report Form and heard back from SDGFP almost immediately. When asked how many sightings occur per year, a Wildlife Biologist responded that “we receive 5-10 sightings a year throughout the state.” Here is a picture I took of the snake:

The Smooth Greensnake can be found in the Black Hills and in the southeastern and northeastern corners of South Dakota. The South Dakota Natural Heritage Program monitors “rare, unique or vulnerable plants, animals and biological communities.”

Snakes that can be found in the Black Hills region include: North American Racer, Plains Hog-nosed Snake, Milksnake, Smooth Greensnake, Gophersnake, Red-bellied Snake, Terrestrial Gartersnake, Plains Gartersnake, Common Gartersnake, and the Prairie Rattlesnake. The only venomous snake on this list is the Prairie Rattlesnake.

This website has descriptions of all of the amphibians and reptiles of South Dakota along with location maps of each species:  https://www.sdherps.org/

Rare Species Report Form: https://gfp.sd.gov/natural-heritage-program/

Thank you to staff members of the South Dakota Game, Fish, and Parks for helping with this article.

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