Illinois Natural History Survey - University of Illinois

Illinois Natural History Survey - University of Illinois

Squamata     suborder Serpentes
Diadophis punctatus -- Ring-necked Snake

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Greene County, IL; photo by Mike Redmer distribution map

Purple shade indicates vouchered specimens. Light blue (cyan) shade indicates photographic records. Yellow shade indicates verified sighting. Slanted hatch indicates pre-1980 records only

NOTE: Not all specimens upon which these maps are based have been verified.

Key Characters: Yellow or cream-colored ring around the neck; dorsal scales smooth; anal plate divided.

Similar Species: No other small snake in Illinois has a ring on the neck and smooth scales.

Subspecies: Prairie ringneck snake, D. p. arnyi; northern ringneck snake, D. p. edwardsii; Mississippi ringneck snake, D. p. stictogenys.

Description: A small (up to 40 cm TL), wormlike, burrowing snake with a blue-gray to black back. The belly is yellow or orange, possibly scattered with black spots or bands. Juvenile may be darker above than adult. The three subspecies differ in the extent and location of ventral spots: the prairie ringneck has numerous irregularly placed spots, the Mississippi ringneck has paired dark spots down the middle of the belly, and the northern ringneck's belly has a few black dots or is unmarked.

Habitat: Hill prairies, bluffs, and open forests.

Natural History: Usually found under rocks or debris. Mating may take place in spring or fall with eggs laid in June. Clutch size is normally 3-4 eggs and hatching takes place in August or September. Hatchlings range from 8 to 11 cm TL. Ringnecks feed on earthworms, small insects, and salamanders. The main predators are other snakes and birds.

Status: Locally abundant in the Shawnee Hills and along the southern Mississippi River bluffs.


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