Field Guide to Maryland's Snakes (Order Squamata)


Family Colubridae

Northern Ring-Necked Snake

Common Name:

Northern Ring-Necked Snake and
Southern Ring-Necked Snake
and

Intergrade ​​


Scientific Name:

Diadophis punctatus edwardsii
Diadophis punctatus punctatus

Diadophis p. punctatus X edwardsi

Photo of Northern Ring-necked Snake courtesy of Linh Phu
Photo of Northern Ring-necked Snake courtesy of Linh Phu

Photo of Southern Ring-necked Snake courtesy of Matt Close
Photo of Southern Ring-necked Snake courtesy of Matt Close


Size:
10 - 15 inches. Record - 27¾ inches.

Appearance:
  • Our ring-necked snake includes the Northern Ring-necked, Southern Ring-necked, and on the lower Eastern Shore, an intergrade between the two species.
  • A plain slender snake with a cream-to-yellow neck collar and yellow belly, which may grade to red towards the tail (Southern).
  • The back is a uniform dark gray, bluish black or brown.
  • Northern: complete neck ring, and belly has no or small black spots down the midline.
  • Southern: broken or notched neck ring behind head, and belly has large, black half-moon shaped spots down the midline.
  • Intergrade: ours typically has a broken neck ring similar to the Southern Ring-necked, however it has an unmarked belly or with only a few black spots, similar to the Northern Ring-necked. Some individuals have been reported with a complete neck ring (Northern), but having a belly with a central row of black half-moons (Southern).
  • Scales not keeled.

Northern and South Ring-necked Snakes 


Habitats:

Primarily found in hardwood and mixed pine-hardwood forests, but will also occur in agricultural lands next to woodlots and backyards. Usually found associated with moisture.


How to Find:

A secretive nocturnal species. Look under coarse woody debris and junk piles and within rotting logs in moist (mesic) woodlands. Young are often discovered in residences after first cold snap of late Summer/early Fall. Will not bite when handled but may discharge foul-smelling feces and musk. Non-venomous.


Distribution in Maryland:

The Northern Ring-necked Snake is found west of the Chesapeake Bay.​

Northern Ring-necked Snake - Distribution in Maryland 

The Southern Ring-necked Snake and the intergrade are found on the Eastern Shore.

Southern Ring-necked Snake - Distribution in Maryland