July 16, 2019

By Lauren Augustine, Curator of Herpetology & Justin Elden, Herpetarium Keeper

At the Saint Louis Zoo, we work with exotic species from all around the world, including animals that are from Missouri. Did you know that many species call St. Louis home? You may not think of cities as places where animals can live or even thrive, but you can certainly find wildlife in urban areas.

In this blog, I’ll answer a few questions about a common animal found in St. Louis—the lined tree snake (Tropidoclonion lineatum).

Are these animals venomous? What do I do if I find a lined snake in my house or on my property?

No. These animals are harmless, and they're beneficial to the ecosystem. They primarily consume earthworms and other invertebrates, and they're a food source for other animals. If you find one of these snakes in your home, gently move them outside.

Where do you see lined snakes in St. Louis?

You may find these snakes in empty lots, near old trash dumps and along highways where there is abundant debris for shelter. Lined snakes hide during the day under rocks, logs and other debris. While other snakes inhabit St. Louis, they are mostly associated with tracts of green space. The lined snakes, on the other hand, seem to do very well in the city landscape, using chunks of concrete and trash as refuge sites. Historically found in glade and dry forest habitats, these snakes are adapting to urban environments because much of their historical habitat has been destroyed.

Find a lined snake in your house or on your property?

That's great, they are there contributing to the urban ecosystem, predating on earthworms and other invertebrates and providing food for an array of predators. These snakes are harmless, so if found in your basement gently move them outside.

How can I identify a lined snake?

They are easy to tell apart from other snakes based off their small size, tan colors and the lines going down their backs.