Permaculture Ringneck Snake

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Common Name: Ringneck Snake

Scientific Name: Diadophis punctatus

Habitats: Ring-necked snakes occur in a wide variety of habitats. Preference seems to be determined by areas with abundant cover. Northern and western species are found within open woodlands near rocky hillsides, or in wetter environments with abundant cover or woody debris. Moist soil conditions were found to be the preferred substrate. Ring-necked snakes are also not found above an elevation of 2200 meters. In northern regions, dens are also important in identifying suitable ring-necked snake habitat. Dens are usually shared communally, and are identifiable by an existent subsurface crevasse or hole that is deep enough to prevent freezing temperatures. Since it is a woodland reptile, it can also commonly be found under wood or scraps. Ring-necked snakes are primarily nocturnal or highly crepuscular, though some diurnal activity has been observed. Individuals are sometimes found during the day, especially on cloudy days, sunning themselves to gain heat. Yet, most individuals lie directly under surface objects that are warmed in the sun and use conduction with that object to gain heat.

Edibility: Not typically consumed by humans, but theoretically edible if care is taken to avoid the venom-producing Duvernoy’s gland located directly behind the eye.

Medicinal: They are slightly venomous but their non-aggressive nature and small rear-facing fangs pose little threat to humans who wish to handle them.

Care: Cultivating an environment as similar as possible to their natural habitats, (including moist soil, abundant cover, woodpiles, and rocks,) is the best way to attract ringneck snakes to your garden.

Symbiosis: The diet of the ring-necked snake consists primarily of smaller salamanders, worms and slugs, but they also sometimes eat lizards, frogs, and some juvenile snakes of other species. The frequency at which prey species are chosen is dependent on their availability within the habitat. Ring-necked snakes use a combination of constriction and envenomation to secure their prey.


Personal Notes: “Like any snake found in the neighbourhood of Saba, this small snake is completely harmless. However, it excretes rather odourously, making sure to make as much of a mess as possible on your hand and arm. Be prepared to wash your hands if you should fancy picking this one up. Generally speaking, by the way, snakes are the cleanest animals in the world, according to my seventh grade science teacher. And this was in a public school, so it must be true. This is the first type of snake I ever caught in my life, in a very special place, so it holds a special place in my heart.” ~ Rich

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