Eastern Glossy Swampsnake
Liodytes rigida rigida

** Harmless **

Common Name:

Eastern Glossy Swampsnake

Scientific Name:

Liodytes rigida rigida



Liodytes means "smooth diver".


rigida is derived from the Latin word rigidus which means "stiff", this refers to the way the the snake moves.


rigida is derived from the Latin word rigidus which means "stiff", this refers to the way the the snake moves.

Vernacular Names:

Brown banded leather snake, brown water snake, green queen snake, rigid queen snake, striped moccasin.

Average Length:

14 - 24 in. (36 - 61 cm)

Virginia Record Length:

30.5 in. (77.5 cm)

Record length:

31.4 in. (79.7 cm)

Virginia Wildlife Action Plan Rating Tier III - High Conservation Need - Extinction or extirpation is possible. Populations of these species are in decline or have declined to low levels or are in a restricted range. Management action is needed to stabilize or increase populations.

PHYSICAL DESCRIPTION: This snake is brown to olive-brown above, sometimes with two faint parallel stripes. Upper lip is yellow. Scales are very shiny, making this the shiniest of the water snakes. The belly is yellow to yellowish-brown with two rows of distinct black spots of half-moons which converge in the neck region to form a single mid-ventral dark stripe. A small to medium sized, dark, shiney water snake that has large eyes and a fairly blunt nose; Maximum known length in Virginia is 30.5in.(775mm); Outside Virginia, the maximum known length is 31.375 inches *11523*. Adults are usually 14-24 inches in length *11523*. Dorsal scales are keeled, anal plate divided, and loreal scale absent *10760*. Males are smaller than females and have fewer ventral scales and more subcaudal scales; Juveniles have the same color and patterns as the adults, but the venter is pink *10760*.

REPRODUCTION: These snakes are viviparous. Males are between 493 and 705 mm. May mate in late April to early May and young are born probably in July or September and are born live. This is one of the least known snakes in VA. In other states 6-18 young are born per litter *10760*.

BEHAVIOR: This species is aquatic. Spends most of its time in the mud and debris near or in the water. They are nocturnal and are very secretive.

LIMITING FACTORS: Very little is known but floods tend to disperse this species rapidly. Predators of this species are the same as with most other aquatic snakes. This is probably one of the rarest reptiles in Virginia. Known from only a handful of specimens collected in the same locality. Thorp has visited the site on several occasions and has found rainbow snakes but no crayfish snakes. Development in this area may have an impact on this species. Since little is known about its habits and requirements, we can not make any educated guess as to its status or numbers in Virginia *11523*.

References for Life History

  • 1006 - Linzey, D.W., M.J. Clifford, 1981, Snakes of Virginia, Univ. of Virginia Press, Charlottesville, VA
  • 1013 - Jackson, J.J., 1983, Snakes of the Northeastern United States, 111 pgs., Ext. Serv., Univ. of GA, Athens, GA
  • 3067 - Conant, R., 1978, Field guide to reptiles and amphibans of eastern and central North America 2nd.ed., 429 pgs., Houghton Mifflin, Boston
  • 10760 - Mitchell, J. C., 1994, The Reptiles of Virginia, 352 pgs., Smithsonian Institution Press, Washington, DC
  • 11523 - Thorp, T.J., 2001, Personal Communication, Expert Review for GAP Analysis Project, Three Lakes Nature Center and Aquarium


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Verified County/City Occurrence

New Kent County
Verified in 1 Counties/Cities.


Virginia is home to 28 species of frogs and toads.


We have a large diversity of salamanders consisting of 56 different species and subspecies.


Virginia is home to 9 native lizard species and two introduced species, the Mediterranean Gecko and the Italian Wall Lizard.


The Commonwealth is home to 34 species and subspecies of snake. Only 3 species are venomous.


Virginia has 25 species and subspecies of turtle. Five of these species are sea turtle.