The Ring-necked snake is a harmless snake found in North America. These are very secretive snakes and are rarely seen during the day time. They are slightly venomous, but their nonaggressive nature and small, rear-facing fangs pose little threat to humans who wish to handle them. They are best known for their unique defense posture of curling up their tails, exposing their bright red-orange posterior, ventral surface when threatened.
The dorsal coloration of these snakes is solid olive, brown, bluish-gray to smoky black, broken only by a distinct yellow, red, or yellow-orange neck band. Some populations do not have the distinctive neck band and additionally, individuals may have reduced or partially colored neck bands that are hard to distinguish; coloration may also be more of a cream color rather than bright orange or red.
Head coloration tends to be slightly darker than the rest of the body, with tendencies to be blacker than grey or olive. Ventrally, the snakes exhibit a yellow-orange to red coloration broken by crescent-shaped black spots along the margins. Some individuals lack the distinct ventral coloration but typically retain the black spotting. Get full knowledge about Ring-necked snakes through Pritish Kumar article’s.
Ring-necked snakes occur throughout much of the United States extending into southeastern Canada and central Mexico. Ring-necked snakes occur in a wide variety of habitats. They prefer areas with abundant cover and denning locations.
They can be found within open woodlands near rocky hillsides, or in wetter environments with an abundant cover or woody debris, within riparian and wet environments, especially in more arid habitats. Since it is a woodland reptile, it can also commonly be found under wood or scraps.
Size also varies across the species’ distribution. Typically, adults measure 25–38 cm (10–15 in) in length, except for D. p. regalis, which measures 38–46 cm (15–18 in). First-year juvenile snakes are typically about 20 cm (8 in) and grow about 2–5 cm (1–2 in) a year depending on the developmental stage or resource availability.
Ring-necked snakes have smooth scales with 15–17 scale rows at midbody. Males typically have small tubercles on their scales just anterior to the vent, which are usually absent in females
Habits and Lifestyle
Ring-necked snakes are primarily nocturnal or highly crepuscular, though some diurnal activity has also been observed. They are sometimes found during the day, especially on cloudy days, sunning themselves to gain heat. Yet, most individuals lie directly under surface objects warmed in the sun and use conduction with that object to gain heat. Though Ring-necked snakes are highly secretive, they do display some social structure.
Many populations have been identified to have large colonies of more than 100 individuals. During cold months Ring-necked snakes hibernate in dens which are usually shared communally. These snakes are harmless to humans; their venom is weak and they use it as a feeding strategy rather than a defense strategy. When Ring-necked snakes are threatened rather than trying to bite a predator, they will wind up their tail into a corkscrew, exposing their brightly colored belly.
Diet and Nutrition
Ring-necked snakes are carnivorous creatures. Their diet consists primarily of smaller salamanders, earthworms, and slugs, but they also sometimes eat lizards, frogs, and some juvenile snakes of other species.
The frequency at which prey species are chosen is dependent on their availability within the habitat Michigan populations of the Eastern Ring-necked Snake (Diadophis punctatus edwardsii) feed almost exclusively on red-backed salamanders. Ring-necked snakes use a combination of constriction and envenomation to secure their prey.
In a study analyzing the dietary habits of this species, age, amount of food consumed, and temperature were conditions that highly affected digestion. The snakes do not have a true venom gland, but they do have an analogous structure called the Duvernoy’s gland derived from the same tissue.
Most subspecies are rear-fanged with the last maxillary teeth on both sides of the upper jaw being longer and channeled; the notable exception is D. p. edwardsii, which is fangless. The venom is produced in the Duvernoy’s gland located directly behind the eye. It then drains out of an opening at the rear of the maxillary tooth.
Ring-necked snakes first strike and then secure the prey using constriction. Next, they maneuver their mouths forward, ensuring the last maxillary tooth punctures the skin and allowing the venom to enter the prey’s tissue. The secretion significantly affects the righting response of the prey. Ring-necked snakes are rarely aggressive to larger predators, suggesting their venom evolved as a feeding strategy rather than a defense strategy. Rather than trying to bite a predator, the snake winds up its tail into a corkscrew, exposing its brightly colored belly.
Ring-necked snakes are polygynandrous (promiscuous) which means that both males and females have multiple partners during a single breeding season. They usually mate in the spring. In some subspecies, mating may occur in the fall. During this time females attract males by secreting pheromones from their skin. Females lay their eggs in loose, aerated soils under a rock or in a rotted log. Three to ten eggs are deposited in early summer and hatch in August or September.
The egg is elongated with a white color contrasted by yellow ends. When hatched, snakelets are precocial and fend for themselves without parental care. They become reproductively mature at 3 years of age.
There are no major threats facing this species at present.
According to IUCN, the Ring-necked 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.