ring-necked snake

(Diadophis punctatus)

Conservation Status

IUCN Red List

LC - Least Concern


No Image Available


N5 - Secure

S4 - Apparently Secure


not listed


Scattered but locally common


Northern ring-necked snake: damp deciduous forests

Prairie ring-necked snake: forest edges and openings, southwest-facing hillsides and rocky bluffs


4 to 8 years


10 to 15



As the common name implies, ring-necked snake is identified by a conspicuous yellowish-orange or orange ring around its neck.

Northern ring-necked snake has a yellowish-orange ring around its neck that completely encircles the neck. The belly matches the ring in color and has little or no dark spotting. The underside of the tail is yellow.

Prairie ring-necked snake has an orange ring around its neck that does not extend to the underside. The belly is yellow for one-third of its length, grading into orange for another third, finally grading into red. The underside of the tail is red. The belly also has numerous scattered black spots.




Earthworms, salamanders, frogs, small lizards, small snakes, slugs, and soft-bodied insects

Life Cycle



When alarmed it will curl its tail into a tight coil.

Distribution Distribution Map  

Sources: 11, 14, 29, 72, 74.

Northern ring-necked snake is found along the St. Croix River in northeastern Minnesota.

Plains ring-necked snake is found along the Mississippi River in southeastern Minnesota.

The two ranges do not overlap.





Squamata (amphisbaenians, lizards, and snakes)



Serpentes (snakes)







Subordinate Taxa

Key ring-necked snake (Diadophis punctatus acricus)

Pacific ring-necked snake (Diadophis punctatus amabilis)

Todos Santos Island ring-necked snake (Diadophis punctatus anthonyi)

prairie ring-necked snake (Diadophis punctatus arnyi)

Dugès’ ring-necked snake (Diadophis punctatus dugesii)

northern ring-necked snake (Diadophis punctatus edwardsii)

San Bernardino ring-necked snake (Diadophis punctatus modestus)

northwestern ring-necked snake (Diadophis punctatus occidentalis)

coralbelly ring-necked snake (Diadophis punctatus pulchellus)

southern ring-necked snake (Diadophis punctatus punctatus)

regal ring-necked snake (Diadophis punctatus regalis)

San Diego ring-necked snake (Diadophis punctatus similis)

Mississippi ring-necked snake (Diadophis punctatus stictogenys)

Monterey ring-necked snake (Diadophis punctatus vandenburgii)




cork-screw snake

ring-necked snake

ringneck snake








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Other Videos

  Prairie Ringneck Snake showing defensive display.
Jim H.

Published on Apr 24, 2014

Prairie Ring-necked Snake, Diadophis punctatus arnyi

I've caught dozens of these, when I was a boy. They are pretty secretive and shy snakes, so I never really noticed how they try to show you their red tail......like that would scare anybody off. But in nature, red many times means danger.

This video shows a little ringneck trying to scare me off. He goes a little nuts for one of these guys.

And the strange thing is that these little guys are actually slightly venomous, although they are considered to be harmless by most people.

  Northern Northern Ring-necked Snake Scientific Name: Diadophis punctatus edwardsii release

Published on Nov 1, 2014

  Northern Ring-necked Snake Rescue

Published on Sep 29, 2014

Baby Northern Ring-necked Snake found in my garage all tangled in webs and debris..

  Handling Northern Ringneck Snake

Uploaded on Jun 4, 2011

Here's another short episode of backyard critters filmed at Danny's brother's house in Randolph, NJ.

This is a northern ringneck snake, which is a very mildly venomous species that can be found in New Jersey. As noted in the video, the venom itself isn't potent enough to be harmful to humans, but you can never be certain whether you'll have an allergic to the venom before being bitten. Thus, it's always best to NOT try to handle these snakes.

  Northern Ringneck Snake

Uploaded on Jul 24, 2011

Northern Ringneck Snake
(Diadophis punctatus edwardsii)

Description: 10-27 11/16" (25.4-70.6 cm). A small slender snake, with a golden-yellow neck ring. Back gray, olive, or brownish, sometimes approaching black. Belly yellow and typically unspotted. Neck ring may be interrupted, obscure, or occasionally absent. Loreal scale present. Scales smooth, in 15-17 rows. Anal plate divided.

Habitat: Forest, rocky wooded hillsides.

Range: Nova Scotia, south in the Appalachians to n. Georgia and ne. Alabama, west to se. Illinois and the Great Lakes region through Wisconsin.

Discussion: Unlike some of the other Ringneck subspecies, the Northern doesn't have red under the tail. Only the red-tailed forms perform the Ringneck "corkscrew coil" defense.





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Al Peterson

Location: Bean and Bear Lake on Superior Hiking Trail


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