Northern Ring Neck Snake
A very common, but seldom seen, snake found in our region is the Northern Ringneck Snake (Diadophis punctatus). This small, shy snake is mostly active during the night, and prefers to hide under rocks, logs, and other debris. This diminutive snake reaches a length of about 10 inches at adulthood, and typically has a slate grey/blue color with a very distinct orange to yellow ring around its neck. Ringneck snakes are found throughout North America, and occupy many different habitats and communities. In fact, ringneck snakes have the widest distribution of any snake in North America. There are nearly 40 subspecies of this snake that come in a variety of colors; the defining trait being the band around its neck. The northern ringneck prefers damp, wooded areas, especially those that are bordered by streams.
Ringneck snakes raise their tail like a corkscrew when they are threatened. While it does not have a true venom gland like the rattlesnake or copperhead, it has a similar structure known as the Duvcrnoy’s Gland located behind the eye that produces a small amount of venom. This venom is used to subdue prey during feeding. The small rear-set fangs and minute venom make the ringsnake no threat to humans.
These snakes eat insects, slugs, earthworms, salamanders, and frogs. They are preyed upon by skunks, raccoons, fox, and bear. Populations of ringneck snake are generally very robust, and a population survey taken in a Georgia woodland area estimated that there were nearly 700 – 1,800 individuals present per hectare. The ringneck snake’s position in the food web is believed to be an intermediate role, consuming a lot of insects and providing food for a number larger animals.
Article by FCFCDB
Nature Note for 1/28/2018