I was on a weekend biology-oriented trip with a group of high school students in central Ohio and we managed to find several Ringneck Snakes. It’s pretty easy to see how these snakes get their common name.
Ringnecks enjoy coast to coast distribution across the United States, though they are absent from arid areas. They need some degree of moisture to find their favorite food items: worms, slugs and salamanders.
These snakes like to hide under rocks and bark at the edges of forests, usually where a forest meets an open area like a field. They can be quite common in some places, but are secretive and not usually seen out in the open. The smooth, slate-colored scales on Ringneck Snakes have a satiny luster. The undersides of these snakes are brightly marked with yellow, orange or red.
In California these snakes have red undersides. They often display the red when they feel threatened. Here’s one I found a few years ago.
On occasion they may curl their tail into a “bulls eye” and present the red surface to whatever is disturbing the snake. This is believed to either scare off enemies or to advertise that the snake isn’t good to eat (mammals find Ringneck Snakes to be distasteful).
They are a mild mannered, small snake – often 12 to 16 inches in length. Here’s a few of the students hanging out with the Ringneck Snakes that we found on our field trip.
To see more photos from this trip, visit Cinco de Mayo in Central Ohio.