Northern Ring Snake
Diadophis punctatus edwardsii (Merrem, 1820)
This snake is easy to recognize. Its back and sides are shiny bluish black, but around its neck is a ring of yellow-orange or red-orange colour which continues down to the belly. Ringneck Snakes are most common in southwestern and northeastern mainland Nova Scotia; reports from northern Nova Scotia and Cape Breton Island are rare. This is a woodland snake, most common near the shores of ponds, streams and bogs. During the day Ringneck Snakes hide under rocks or fallen logs. At dusk they become active, hunting salamanders. Their favourite food is the Red-backed Salamander.
Females lay several yellowish-white eggs in damp places such as under rocks or rotting wood in open areas exposed to the sun's heat. Sometimes many females lay eggs together in a group nest. Adult males range from about 28 to 41 cm. in total length. Adult females range from about 26 to 54 cm. in total length
Ring-Neck Snakes are known for wriggling along the foundations of buildings and hibernating in old foundations. They may sometimes find their way into buildings.
Additional Facts and Details
The ring around the neck is usually one to two and a half scales wide. Rarely, an individual will have an incomplete neck-band.
There are about 150 scales along the snake's belly.
One communal nest found under a boulder near McCabe Lake in Halifax County had 117 eggs, ranging in length from 2.1 to 3.6 cm. A female lays from one to eight eggs each year. They hatch some time between late August and early October.
How big do they get? Female snakes get longer than male snakes. Here are some measurements:
This species lives from Nova Scotia west to Wisconsin, south to Georgia. In Nova Scotia it is most common in the southwestern and northeastern mainland, including Big Tancook Island in Mahone Bay. There are four localities in northern Cape Breton Island.
The earliest record for seeing one out of hibernation in Nova Scotia is May 7, in 1972, under a rock near Donnellan Lake, Queens County. An adult female was dug out of hibernation on February 1, 1964, from next to a house foundation at Westphal, Halifax County. The radiating heat probably causes snakes that hibernate next to building foundations to warm up early.
In 1975, a small Ringneck Snake was found alive in the hallway of an apartment at Dartmouth, Halifax County. It was probably hibernating next to the foundation and warmed up early. They also like to live cracks and crevices in rock walls.
The latest date in the year for seeing one in Nova Scotia is October 12, in 1970, when 19 hatchlings and one juvenile were discovered in a pile of rock near an abandoned gold mine near Little Gammon Lake, Halifax County.
Ringnecks have often been seen crossing roads at night. One was accidently caught in a dip net, swimming across Minard Brook in Queens.
Ringneck Snakes eat Redback Salamanders, mostly. Some eat other snakes - young Redbelly Snakes and Smooth Green Snakes have been found in their stomachs.