Reptiles

Amphibians

Ring-necked Snake (Diadophis punctatus ssp.)

Description

This species is very small; rarely exceeding 30cm (12in) in length. The diameter is less than that of a typical pencil. The general dorsal coloration is ranges from brown to jet black. Some seem to have a subtle greenish or bluish tint. One of the most distinguishing features is the brightly colored orange, yellow, or red ring around the neck. The underside is very brightly colored with orange, yellow, or red. There may also be a series of black dots or bars on the the belly.

There are two subspecies in the state. The Prairie Ring-necked Snake (D. p. arnyi) has numerous randomly scattered black dots on its belly and a bright red or orange undertail. The Mississippi Ring-necked Snake (D. p. stictogenys) has black dots on its belly that are paired.


Habitats

This species can be found pretty much anywhere in the state where there is protective cover: loose soil, leaf litter, rotten logs, rocks, debris, etc. They seem to prefer moist environments. This is a species that will even make its home in an urban garden.


Habits and Life History

Because of their small size, this species is difficult to study under natural conditions. Mating is thought to take place in the spring or fall. A small number of eggs (rarely more than 4) are laid in the summer with hatching taking place in the fall.


Prey and Hunting Techniques

Salamanders and earthworms are thought to constitute a large portion of the diet for this species. They actively forage for food at night and subdue their prey with a simple "grab and eat" technique.


Temperament and Defense

This species will not bite if handled gently. They will likely release a foul-smelling musk, but this is harmless to humans. The brightly-colored belly serves as a second line of protection. It signals to a potential predator that this animal probably tastes bad or is dangerous. If highly disturbed, this species may coil its tail and flip it up to show the bright coloration underneath.


Conservation

This species is highly abundant and seems resilient enough to survive even in an urban environment.


State Distribution and Abundance

The ranges for the two subspecies are split almost in half across the state. The Prairie Ring-necked Snake (D. p. arnyi) can be found from the Northwestern corner into the central part of the state. The Mississippi Ring-necked Snake (D. p. stictogenys) is found in the remainder. This species is highly abundant in Arkansas. Even given its small size and secretive nature, it is commonly discovered during gardening or landscaping work.

Gallery

Ring-necked Snake Ring-necked Snake Ring-necked Snake Ring-necked Snake Ring-necked Snake Ring-necked Snake Ring-necked Snake Ring-necked Snake Ring-necked Snake Prairie Ringneck Snake (Diadophis punctatus arnyi) Ring-necked Snake Ring-necked Snake Ring-necked Snake Ring-necked Snake Diadophis punctatus arnyi (Prairie Ringneck Snake) Ringneck Snake Ringneck Snake Ringneck Snake Ringneck Snake Ringneck Snake Ringneck Snake Ringneck Snake Ringneck Snake Ringneck Snake Ringneck Snake Ringneck Snake Ringneck Snake Ringneck Snake Ringneck Snake Ringneck Snake Ringneck Snake Ringneck Snake Ringneck Snake Ringneck Snake Ringneck Snake Ringneck Snake Ringneck Snake Ringneck Snake Ringneck Snake Ringneck Snake Ringneck Snake Ringneck Snake

Contributors

  • kaptainkory March 23, 2006, at 07:30 AM (Original Contributor)

Bibliography

  • Behler, J. L., and F. W. King. 1979 (1987). The Audubon Society Field Guide to North American Reptiles and Amphibians. 3rd ed. Alfred A. Knopf, New York. 743 pp.
  • Conant, R., and J. T. Collins. 1998. A Field Guide to Reptiles and Amphibians of Eastern and Central North America. 3rd ed., Expanded. Houghton Mifflin Co., Boston. 616 pp.
  • Irwin, K. J. 2004. Arkansas Snake Guide. Arkansas Game and Fish Commission Pocket Guide. 50 pp.
  • Trauth, S. E., H. W. Robison, and M. V. Plummer. 2004. Amphibians and Reptiles of Arkansas. University of Arkansas Press, Fayetteville. 421 pp.

Discussion

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Page last modified on January 21, 2012, at 08:54 PM