Ringneck Snake – Northern / Southern / Florida / Regal / Prairie / Eastern

The Ringneck snakes or Diadophis punctatus are from the family of Colubirdae reptiles that are mostly located in North America, the central and the eastern parts, Mexico, United States and Canada.

They have narrow bodies and their name originates from the yellow neckbands and the paler orange neckbands that are on the backs of their heads.

On the upper side the snakes have grayish blue or grayish green color, or sometimes brown. The lower parts can be orange and yellow.

Sometimes they can look like they have red color below the tail because the yellow and the orange color are deepest in that part of the snake’s body. Some of the snakes may have dark blotting on the stomach area.

The male snakes that are fully mature are usually smaller than the female ones, but the female fully mature snakes have smaller tails.

They can achieve length from 10 until 15 inches and can be found in foothills, hillsides, woodlands, floodplains, grasslands, valleys and forests.

The Ringneck snakes often search for a place suitable for hiding, like stones, tree bark or logs. Their reproductive season is in the spring months or in the autumn.

The clutches are made between 3 and 10 young. After the eggs have been laid, the young little snakes don’t get any parental care or assistance, they are on their own. So, they start the reproduction process when they turn 3 years.

Breeding of the Ringneck Snake (Hatchling Baby)

Source: tinypic.com

These snakes usually mate in the spring season, but it can also occur in the fall some later implantation. The female snakes secret pheromones so in that way they attract the male snakes.

The secretion comes from their skin, so when the male finds the female, starts rubbing the mouth closed along the body of the female snake.

Source: reptilesmagazine.com

So, the male snake bites the female one around the neck ring and they align their bodies, so the sperm can get into the vent of the female snake.

The female snakes lay down the eggs under rocks, rotted logs, loose and aerated soils, where 3-10 eggs are deposited early in the summer. The egg has white color with yellow ends. The young snakes take care of themselves.

Are the Ringneck snakes poisonous?

Yes they are. Maybe it sounds unfamiliar to people that this type of snake is actually poisonous, they are venomous. Their saliva contains venom so they can control the animals they got. Often the ring-neck snake has the saliva out of the mouth because it is giving out the venom.

Ringneck Snake Care Sheet

What you need to do if you want to keep a Ring-neck snake as a pet?

  • You need a 5 gallon aquarium tank if you keep an immature and 10 gallon tank if the snake has already achieved the full length. The tank needs a wire mesh lid because the snake can easily escape from it, so you need to set it on the top of the cage.
  • Put something in the tank, decorate it so the snake has places to crawl.
  • Provide the bed for the snake. They usually burrow themselves in a dead leaf matter, so you can mix clean sand, peat moss and unfertilized potting soil, and you need to make it 3 inches deep.
  • You need to mist the bedding with a spray bottle of water every other day.
  • The tank needs proper heating. During day should be 70-75 degrees and at night 65-70 degrees. You have to provide a heater in the tank.
  • Feed your snake with earthworms 2-4 times a week.
  • Give water to the snake in a shallow water dish.

Ringneck Snake Diet

What is the diet of the Ring-neck consisted of?

It is consisted of small salamanders, slugs, earthworms, sometimes frogs, lizards or small snakes of other species. Their feeding depends on where they are living.

Some of the species don’t have real venom gland but they have Duvrenoy’s gland which comes from the same tissue, so this is called envenomation and it is because the snakes want to secure their prey.

Ringneck Snake Bite

Source: Youtube.com

The bite takes up to a minute and it starts with a stinging, mild hot sensation and it is not painful.

Types Of Ringneck Snakes Based On The Color

Black Ringneck snake

Source: pbase.com

This type of snake has a black color with a yellow neck in the form of a ring. It can usually have yellow or orange belly.

Yellow Ringneck snake

Source: Wikimedia.com

This type of Ring-neck snake has a yellow color on the back and grey, sometimes black color underside. At the end of the tail it can be some orange to red color and has spots with irregular shape and pattern. It has a wide yellow neck ring.

Orange Ringneck Snake

Source: californiaherps.com

This snake has a black or grey color on the back and orange underneath. It also has spots underside and on the belly. Sometimes can have reddish belly. The neck ring is orange.

Red Ringneck Snake

Source: Californiaherps.com

This snake has a red to orange color on the belly, with irregular shape and size spots, grey color on the back, sometimes can be black at the head, and an orange neck.

Division Of The Ringneck Snake By The Subspecies

Eastern Ringneck Snake – Diadophis punctatus Linnaeus

Source: wildherps.com

  • It is in the family of Colubridae and is 75% of the U.S. species. They are 12-18 inches long, small snakes with smooth scales and the anal plate is divided. Their color can be from gray to black and the belly from yellow to reddish. The ring can be yellow to reddish too.
  • The size of the adult snake can be from 6 to 10 inches while the record of the longest one was noticed to be 18.9 inches. Adult snakes are slender bodied and small, with yellow and black body, with an orange or cream ring around the neck. The belly can be orange, yellow or red with some spots on the center. Smooth scales and 15-17 scale rows on the dorsal side at the middle of the body. The pupil is round.
  • The color of the young snakes is similar to the adult snakes.

Northern Ringneck snake – Diadophis punctatus Edwardsii

Photo by: Jason Gibson

  • It is a small thin snake that has a dark slate body with a yellow ring around the neck. The belly can be from yellow to orange and the head is flat with smooth scales which gives the gloss.
  • Can be long 9-25 inches.
  • It is found in Nova Scotia up to Appalchian Mountains- south, northern Georgia and north-east Alabama, south-east Illinois – on the west and through Wisconsin in the Great lakes. It can be also found in Connecticut.
  • These types of Ring-neck snakes live in gardens, forests, meadows or sandy barrens and can sometimes go into the basements. Can be also found under bark, trash or stones.
  • Their breeding is in spring when the females lay the eggs in June or July, while in August or September the hatching happens. The female snakes don’t care about the young snakes or about the eggs.
  • They hibernate in late September or October while they use abandoned woodchuck, chipmunk, burrows for dens or old stone foundations and are more active during the night, but sometimes can be during the day in the fall or the spring season.
  • They mostly eat small salamanders or earthworms.
  • These small and secretive snakes are docile, so if they are handled properly they rarely bite, but instead they will try to escape through your fingers.
  • Harmless little snakes.
  • It is often confused with dekay’s brown snakes.

Regal Ringneck Snake – Diadophis punctatus regalis

Source: imgur.com

  • It is a subspecies of the Ring-snake endemic type in the south-west of USA and northern Mexico.
  • It has gray color with white or cream color underside which can become orange or red near the tail. It has a yellow or orange ring around the neck and is bordered with black. In this subspecies the neck is usually absent – you cannot see it.
  • They are large subspecies with a total length of 20-87 cm.
  • The dorsal scales are smooth.

Prairie Ringneck snake – Diadophis punctatus arnyi

site: iowaherps.com

  • it is in the family of no venomous snakes in the order Squamata.
  • They can be easily recognized by the small size, the dark color on the back, the yellow ring around the neck and the yellow-orange belly. The back can also be gray, dark brown or blue-black. The belly has small black spots that have no regular pattern or size.
  • When these snakes are captured they don’t bite, but discharge a pungent and unpleasant musk along with a faecal matter.
  • They are similar to the Mississippi Ring-neck snake found in south-east of Missouri which has narrow and interrupted neck ring on the back, small belly spots and a yellow belly.
  • 10-14 inches long.

Florida/Southern Ringneck snake – Diadophis punctatus punctatus

Photo By: Paul Sattler

  • Can be found all over USA, not just in Florida. Can be also found in central Mexico and Canada.
  • It is the only snake of the species that actually has the genus Diadophis and there are 14 subspecies to this snake and different snakes are found each day.
  • You can easily spot the ring neck since it is with a bright color and the snake can be blue, gray, brown and black.
  • very small and thin snake, completely black, except the yellow or red ring around the neck and a bright red belly.

Coral Bellied Ringneck snake – Diadophis punctatus pulchellus

Photo By: Jackson Shedd

  • This type has a wide neck ring and few spots underside. Sometimes the spots can be missing.
  • It is found in Sierra Nevada, California.

Pacific Ringneck snake – Diadophis punctatus amabilis

Photo By: Edgar Ortega

  • There are a lot of belly spots and a narrow neck ring.
  • It is found in San Francisco Bay area.
  • This type of snake prefers rocky areas and moist cover and open, grasslands and forests.
  • Eats smaller reptiles, earthworms and amphibians.
  • Lays eggs from August until October and some individuals aggregate in groups.
  • It has slender body, brown, olive, black or blue-gray coloration, dark head and yellowish neck. It can have red on the tail.

Key Ringneck snake – Diadophis punctatus acricus

Source: Flickr.com

  • This type of snake doesn’t have a neck and there are 15 scale rows.
  • It is found in Big Pine Key, Florida.

San Bernardino Ringneck snake – Diadophis punctatus modestus

Photo By: Gary Nafis

  • Wide neck ring with heavy spotting underside.
  • 17 scale rows on the neck.
  •  Found in San Diego County and Los Angeles County, then east to San Bernardino Mountains.

Northwestern Ringneck snake – Diadophis punctatus occidentalis

Photo By: Gary Nafis

  • Wide neck ring and lightly spotted.
  • It is found in Washington, Sonoma County, California with some isolated populations in Washingto and Idaho.

San Diego Ringneck snake – Diadophis punctatus similis

Photo By: Gary Nafis

  • Narrow neck ring and moderately spotted underside.
  • Found in south-western San Bernardino County and Baja California.

Mississippi Ringneck snake – Diadophis punctatus stictogenys

Source: inaturalist.org

  • Narrow ring neck which is often interrupted. It also has paired black spots in the middle line of the belly.
  • It can be found in extreme southern Illinois, south in Mississippi Valley to the Gulf, Mobile Bay until eastern Texas.

Monterey Ringneck snake – Diadophis punctatus vendenburghi

Photo By: Gary Nafis

  • Wide neck ring with few and small belly spots and 17 scale rows on the region of the neck.
  • Fund in Ventura County and Santa Cruz County, California.

Duge’s Ringneck snake – Diadophis punctatus villada

  • One of the 13 subspecies of Diadophis punctatus and was firstly scientifically described in 1875 by Villada.


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