SOUTHERN RING-NECKED SNAKE


Diadophis p. punctatus

Ring-Necked Snakes (Diadophis punctatus L.) are found throughout most of North America below 2,200 m. elevation, except in extremely arid regions.  They are small snakes; this adult was about 10 inches.  Ring-Necked Snakes are slightly venomous, but their tiny jaws and location of their fangs at the rear of the jaw make it almost impossible for them to bite a human, except perhaps in the web of the hand.  In any case, they are extremely gentle, and their venom seems to have evolved strictly as a means of incapacitating prey as they rarely bite in defense.  Children in rural areas commonly play with them and keep them as pets without harm.  I’ve handled literally dozens of them over the years with no aggression shown at all.

These are relatively common snakes, but mainly nocturnal.  They can be seen in daylight mostly in shady areas, in the evening, and on cloudy days.  Ring-Necks live in areas that provide loose, moist soil where they hunt smaller snakes, worms, insects and similar prey, and where they can den up for Winter in cavities that extend below the freezing level.   They capture prey by enveloping it in their coils like other constrictors (family Colubridae) and then maneuvering their mouth into position so that their fangs can deliver venom.  As with other snakes, the prey is swallowed whole.

Click on the image for a larger picture.

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