Diadophis punctatus edwardsii

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Diadophis punctatus edwardsii
Diadophis punctatus edwardsii4.jpg
Northern ringneck snake
Scientific classification e
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Reptilia
Order: Squamata
Suborder: Serpentes
Family: Colubridae
Genus: Diadophis
D. p. edwardsii
Trinomial name
Diadophis punctatus edwardsii
(Merrem, 1820)
  • Coluber edwardsii
    Merrem, 1820
  • Diadophis punctatus edwardsii
    Dunn, 1920

Diadophis punctatus edwardsii, commonly known as the northern ringneck snake, is a subspecies of Diadophis punctatus, a snake in the family Colubridae. The subspecies is endemic to North America.


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.[2][3][4]


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.[5] In some regions, there are areas of intergradation with other subspecies. Generally from 10 to 15 inches (25 to 38 centimetres) in total length (including tail) as an adult, it can reach more than two feet (61 cm) in length.[6]

Geographic range[edit]

In Canada D. p. edwardsii 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.[6]


D. p. edwardsii 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). It is also social, and multiple ringnecks may be found in the same hiding spot during any season.[7]


The favored habitat of the northern ringneck snake over most of its range is a moist wooded area,[8] but it will also use the edges of wetlands or open areas in mountainous or hilly terrain. It is also often found in moist humid basements.[citation needed]


A female D. p. edwardsii will lay her clutch of 2 to 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 (341+14 in) long by 7–8 mm (1414 in) wide, and the hatchlings are 100–125 mm (3.9–4.9 in) in total length.[9] Egg laying is normally in early summer and hatching in late summer.[citation needed]


In the winter D. p. edwardsii hibernates in locations from stone walls or cellars to small mammal burrows to brush piles or rotting logs.[citation needed]


D. p. edwardsii preys upon insects, salamanders, earthworms, slugs, small lizards, small snakes, and frogs.[9] The red-backed salamander (Plethodon cinereus) is a favorite food.[citation needed]

As prey[edit]

D. p. edwardsii is 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.[citation needed]


  1. ^ Species Diadophis punctatus at The Reptile Database www.reptile-database.org.
  2. ^ Beltz, Ellin (2006). Scientific and Common Names of the Reptiles and Amphibians of North America – Explained. http://ebeltz.net/herps/biogappx.html#E
  3. ^ Beolens, Bo; Watkins, Michael; Grayson, Michael (2011). The Eponym Dictionary of Reptiles. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press. xiii + 296 pp. ISBN 978-1-4214-0135-5. (Diadophis punctatus edwardsi, p. 81).
  4. ^ Edwards, George (1764). Gleanings of Natural History, exhibiting figures of Quadrupeds, Birds, Insects, Plants, &c ... Part III. London: Royal College of Physicians. page 290. [1]
  5. ^ Smith HM, Brodie ED Jr (1982). Reptiles of North America: A Guide to Field Identification. New York: Golden Press. 240 pp. ISBN 0-307-13666-3. (Diadophis punctatus edwardsi, pp. 160-161).
  6. ^ a b Conant R (1975). A Field Guide to Reptiles and Amphibians of Eastern and Central North America, Second Edition. Boston: Houghton Mifflin. xviii + 429 pp. ISBN 0-395-19979-4 (hardcover), ISBN 0-395-19977-8 (paperback). (Diadophis punctatus edwardsi, p. 172 + Plate 25 + Map 133).
  7. ^ Schmidt KP, Davis DD (1941). Field Book of Snakes of the United States and Canada. New York: G.P. Putnam's Sons. 365 pp. (Diadophis punctatus edwardsii, pp. 111-112 + Plate 10, bottom).
  8. ^ Conant, Roger; Bridges, William (1939). What Snake is That?: A Field Guide to the Snakes of the United States East of the Rocky Mountains. (with 108 drawings by Edmond Malnate). New York and London: D. Appleton-Century. viii + 163 pp. + Plates A-C, 1-32. (Diadophis punctatus edwardsii, p. 36 + Plate 3, Figure 8).
  9. ^ a b Wright AH, Wright AA (1957). Handbook of Snakes of the United States and Canada. Ithaca and London: Comstock. 1,105 pp. (in two volumes). (Diadophis punctatus edwardsi, pp. 185-190, Figure 59 + Map 20 on p. 179).

Further reading[edit]

  • Behler JL, King FW (1979). The Audubon Society Field Guide to North American Reptiles and Amphibians. New York: Alfred A. Knopf. 743 pp. ISBN 0-394-50824-6. (Diadophis punctatus edwardsi, p. 601).
  • Merrem B (1820). Versuchs eines Systems der Amphibien: Tentamen Systematis Amphibiorum. Marburg: J.C. Krieger. xv + 191 pp. + one plate. (Coluber edwardsii, new species, p. 136). (in German and Latin).

External links[edit]