Diadophis punctatus edwardsii
|Diadophis punctatus edwardsii|
|Northern ringneck snake|
|Subspecies:||D. p. edwardsii|
|Diadophis punctatus edwardsii
The subspecific name, edwardsii, is in honor of English ornithologist George Edwards, who described it, without giving it a binomial name, from a specimen he had received from William Bartram.
The Northern ringneck snake has a body color from bluish grey to black, with a complete narrow yellow or orange ring around its neck and an underside matching the ring and generally lacking any dark spotting or patterning. The complete ring and lack of large dark spots on the belly differentiate it from other subspecies of D. punctatus. In some regions, there are areas of intergradation with other subspecies. Generally from 10 to 15 inches (25 to 38 centimetres) long as an adult, they can reach more than two feet (61 cm) in length.
In Canada it is found in the southern parts of Ontario, Quebec, and New Brunswick, and also in Nova Scotia. In the United States it is found throughout New England, the Mid-Atlantic states, and the Great Lakes region, and also at higher elevations in the South. More specifically, it is found in the following: NE Alabama, Connecticut, NW Georgia, SE Illinois, S Indiana, Kentucky, W Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, NE Minnesota, N New Jersey, New York, W North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, extreme NW South Carolina, E Tennessee, W (western) Virginia, West Virginia, Wisconsin, and Florida.
The species is nocturnal and prone to hiding and traveling under rocks, fallen logs and leaf litter, so it is not commonly observed by people despite the potential abundant population density. (Another subspecies in Kansas was found to have densities of 700 to 1,800 per 1 hectare (0.0039 sq mi; 0.010 km2).) They are also social, and multiple ringnecks may be found in the same hiding spot during any season.
Their favored habitat over most of their range is a moist wooded area, but they will also use the edges of wetlands or open areas in mountainous or hilly terrain. They are also often found in moist humid basements.
A female will lay her clutch of 2-10 eggs under a rock or in moist and rotting wood. Other female snakes may also use the same laying site, leading to single site egg finds of up to the mid fifties. The eggs hatch after about two months, and the young look essentially the same as the adults, possibly with a brighter color shade on the ring and belly. The eggs are 21–34 mm (3⁄4–1 1⁄4 in) long by 7–8 mm (1⁄4–1⁄4 in) wide, and the hatchlings are 100–125 mm (3.9–4.9 in) in total length. Egg laying is normally in early summer and hatching in late summer. In the winter, these snakes hibernate, in locations from stone walls or cellars to small mammal burrows to brush piles or rotting logs.
They are themselves known to be preyed upon by bullfrogs, toads, five species of predatory birds and six mammal species including shrews. Very young Northern ringneck snakes may also be eaten by large centipedes or large spiders.
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