The Ring-Necked Snake

All About The Docile Bright Bellied Snake

There's No Need To Fear Me

As part of the Colubridae snake family, us Ring-Necked snakes (also called Diadophis punctatus), have broad geographic scopes throughout North America's central and eastern portions, Mexico, Canada and the United States. People often confuse me with the Red Bellied snake though they are apart of the Storeria occipitomaculata. I am not an aggressive species of snake. I am docile and gentle with humans and do not mind being handled which is why I am a common pet snake. Although I can be spotted it can be difficult to come across me, because I am nocturnal and am not a fan of sunlight. Even though it is uncommon for me to bite I do produce a weak venom, but it is harmless to humans.

Although I am a snake, who are known to be a little higher up on the pyramid, I am part of the Colubridae snakes who are considered the lower class snakes. I am small and usually range from 10-15 inches and because I mainly munch on insects I would be apart of the secondary consumers. I am easy prey for larger Colubridae snakes.

My two pet Ring-Neck Snakes! :)

A Day In My Scales

I am a carnivore who hunts at night. My diet consists mainly of lipids, proteins and fiber. I prefer to prey on earthworms, salamanders and slugs though I will also eat a variety of other small invertebrates. If I am larger you can find me eating smaller snakes and lizards. I kill my prey by suffocation, and will lastly resort to biting due to the weak venom I produce in my saliva.

I have one of the largest geographic range of all snake species, but I still have my preferences. Generally, I desire an area with moistened soil and temperatures at 80-84 degrees Fahrenheit which is why I hibernate during the cold winters. I commonly live by swamps, grasslands, wetlands and woodlands. It is common to come across us in gardens but we are usually hiding under rocks, loose tree bark or leaves, holes in the soil or bushes. I prefer a single denning sight and am not known to migrate, for I usually stay at the same den for my whole life.

Reproductive Mechanisms

My mating system is polygynangrous, meaning us females mate with multiple males throughout a lifetime. Us females are also larger than the males. I will hit reproductive maturity at age 3, and then breed once a year during the spring or fall. When mating, us females will release pheromones from our skin to attract a male mate. When we find a mate we are satisfied with the male will rub their mouths on our body, then bite us around the ring on our neck and proceed mating. Our eggs are usually laid around June or July in soil or under rocks and are left to hatch in August. My offspring does not develop inside my body but instead develop inside the egg when laid. Although I am a gentle natured snake I am not a caring parent. When I lay my eggs to hatch I may leave them in the same nest of multiple other females eggs. I also leave my offspring to fend for themselves. This results in high mortality rates of my babies. Though my offspring who survive usually have an average life span of 20 years in the wild.
Ring Neck Snake Eggs Hatching 7.18.15

My Relations With The World

I am a social creature with my own species. My mechanism of communication is by touch like rubbing heads and mouths, and releasing pheromones into the air and water to communicate to other species. Because I do prefer to live independently, sometimes I must compete with other snakes of my own species for a den. At times we can share dens but we often don't prefer it. Sometimes I must compete with frogs too and larger insects who prefer living in dens in the soil to keep cool.

To insects, small lizards and slugs I am a predator, but I am also a prey. I am not large so I can be consumed by a variety of organisms. My biggest predators are coral snakes, king-snakes and racers who will eat me and my young. Wild hogs, opossums, shrews, armadillos, skunks, bull frogs are also fearful predators. Large spiders and centipedes are also dangers to my offspring who usually feed on them but because I do not care for my offspring there is no competition to try and protect them.

I do not secrete powerful venom so to keep predators away and ensure my survival I use a mechanism called aposematic. This is where I coil and show my bright colored belly (yellow or red) to warn predators away in hopes of them thinking I am distasteful or poisonous. I will also release a foul smelling mucus I secrete from my mouth to make myself seem less appealing.
I play a small role in biodegration by moving branches and debris. I also play both as the predator and prey. I help control pest populations in an ecosystem by chowing down on insects and serve as nutrition for larger animals.

Health and Fitness

While there is not much known as my specific species immune system there is some information on the general Colubride reptile immunology. My body has a poorly developed mechanism towards regulating our internal body temperature, it greatly fluctuates with our enviornment. Therefore most of our behavior, immune system and metabolism is based off our environment. I have both an adaptive and innate immunity cells. When stressed from my enviornment, my adrenal gland produces a steroid called corticosterone which suppress my immune system. My bladder is not correlated with my liver like it is in other mammals, turtles and lizards. My thymus is responsible for producing immune cells that fight infection. I also do not have lymph nodes like mammals do but I do have a lymphatic system.