Stuff In My Yard: Ringneck Snake

Ringneck Snake

Diadophis punctatus

Photo from Wikimedia by Brian Gratwicke

This handsome fellow is the Ringneck Snake. Kevin tripped over one in the middle of the backyard, where it was hanging out, la la la, just bein’ a snake, nothin’ to see here… (This is actually rather unusual–they’re mostly nocturnal and rather shy.) It was eight or ten inches long, very thin, like a small shiny shoelace. He herded it–for a value of “herded” that mostly involved it slithering between his boots–into a brushy area less likely to be troubled by beagles and it vanished into the leaf litter.

They’re not big snakes–this one was probably an adult, or close to it–and in my yard, he’s probably feeding primarily on insects, earthworms and cricket frogs. I am delighted that he finds enough prey here to sustain him, even as I hope that his diet is heavier on the earthworms and the insects than the cricket frogs.  (I am a vertebrate chauvinist, I admit, and very fond of the little cricket frogs.) However, he is also eating leopard slugs and garden centipedes, which means that he can help himself to the occasional frog as far as I’m concerned. (Hell, if he eats THOSE, he can come inside and raid the liquor cabinet and I won’t begrudge him…) They kill their prey through constriction and envenomation, but have a very hard time breaking the skin on humans, so even if you happen to put your hand down on one, it’s unlikely to be anything but startling.

He’s a great little guy to have in the garden, and I hope he finds love with some other lovely little black shoelace and they have a zillion babies.

5 Comments

  • Laura says:

    Ehm…. our first year in our new house our first houseguest (my aunt) woke up to find one of those had slithered into bed with her. She screamed and my mom ran in, she pointed out the wee sleepy snake, my mom informed her that it was okay, it wasn’t poisonous, we’d just put him in a jar and take him outside and left to get the jar. She re-entered to find my aunt holding the snake. Startled she told my aunt “JUST BECAUSE HE ISN’T POISONOUS DOESN’T MEAN HE WON’T BITE” which resulted in a small, confused ringneck snake being thrown at her. He made it into the jar and then the backyard.

    We re-sealed that room shortly after.

  • Christine says:

    Neat! I quite like snakes, but I could be biased as I live in Canada where the snakes are small and cute and harmless. On the other hand, much as I respect their place in the world, I am very jumpy around spiders. Even though the Canadian varieties are about as harmless as our snakes.

    @Laura: Yikes! lol, poor snake.

  • ursulav says:

    @Laura Goodness! I wonder which of them was more terrified…

  • jen says:

    Ringneck snakes are the best! When i lived in a state park the nauralist would occasionally catch one and use it in her programs for a day or two. I’ve held a bunch of completely wild ones and was never bitten. They are fun to hold, they twist back and forth in your fingers and feel super smooth.

    Also, I made my 8 yr old little brother scream when I brought one inside to show him. The pansy 😛

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