The Rough green snake is a nonvenomous North American colubrid. It is bright green in color above and has a yellowish belly, affording it excellent camouflage in green vegetation; this also makes Rough green snakes difficult to see in the wild even though they are relatively common in their habitat. They have keeled dorsal scales, which are arranged in 17 rows at mid-body and a very thin tail.
Rough green snakes range throughout the Southeastern United States, from Florida, north to coastal Maine, Indiana, and west to Central Texas. They are commonly found in the Piedmont and Atlantic coastal plain. These snakes also occur in northeastern Mexico, including the state of Tamaulipas and eastern Nuevo León. They inhabit moist meadows, overgrown pasture, tallgrass prairie, thickets, vines, shrubs, and woodlands, often near water.
Rough green snakes are highly arboreal, frequently found climbing in low vegetation, and are also good swimmers. However, they are often found on the ground as well. They lead a solitary life and unlike many snakes, they are largely diurnal. At night they sleep coiled on the tree branches, in shrubs, vine tangles, or thick vegetation. During the cold winter months, usually from December to February, Rough green snakes hibernate. They are docile creatures, often allowing a close approach by humans, and seldom bite. Even when bites occur, they have no venom and are harmless. When threatened, Rough green snakes prefer to freeze in hope not to be detected, relying on their green coloration for camouflage.
Rough green snakes are polygynandrous (promiscuous) meaning that both males and females have multiple partners each breeding season. They mate in spring, and sometimes again in fall. Females lay 2-14 eggs, occasionally in a communal nest shared by more than one female. The nest site varies: under boards, under bark in rotting stumps, in deep mulch, or under a rock. The incubation period lasts 5-12 weeks. Hatchlings are born fully developed and measure about 18-20 cm (7.1-7.9 in) in total length. Females do not care for their young and baby snakes are left to fend for themselves after hatching. Females usually start breeding at the age of 21-33 months while males are ready to breed when they are 20-21 months old.
Rough green snakes suffer from habitat loss due to urban development and especially the reduction of vegetation near waterways, may reduce their numbers. Many are killed on roads, and they may be susceptible to poisoning by pesticides used on their insect prey. When dead, they turn blue. Rough green snakes are also one of the most exploited pet snakes in North America. They are collected by the hundreds each year and wholesale for around eight dollars in U.S. currency making it a very accessible species to pet shops and later to the pet owner.
According to IUCN, the Rough green snake is locally common and widespread throughout its range but no overall population estimate is available. Currently, this species is classified as Least Concern (LC) on the IUCN Red List and its numbers today are stable.
Rough green snakes are an important food source for local predators including birds, larger snakes, and domestic cats.