Recognized Subspecies in VA: Northern Ringneck Snake (Diadophis punctatus edwardsii) | Southern Ringneck Snake (Diadophis punctatus punctatus)
Size: 10 - 16 inches
Status: Least Concern
The Ringneck Snake is an interesting snake for several reasons. This snake has an enormous range across much of the country, even extending into Canada and Mexico. This species currently recognized to have fourteen subspecies. Just to be as honest as possible, this "species" is probably a nightmare of a species complex. Maybe one day these two subspecies will be species, but until then we will treat them as one.
Ringnecks can be found in forests across the state; usually under bark, logs, or rocks. This species loves stone walls as well. That said, I have found several Ringnecks in the road on wet nights.
The Ringneck Snake is incredibly smooth, glossy snakes. They usually have a vibrant yellow-orange collar and belly. The Northern subspecies has a plain belly and can be found in the Mountains and NOVA. The Southern has a row of spots down the belly and is found in the southern Coastal Plain. The rest of the state is an intergrade zone. This means these snakes are a hybrid lineage of these two subspecies. Southerns may, but do not always have broken collars.
Similar Species: The Redbelly Snake is often confused for this species, but their keeled scales, patterned body, facial shape and pattern really makes the Redbelly dissimilar. People also confuse Dekay's Brownsnakes for Ringnecks, but every difference I mentioned with the Redbelly, plus the Brownsnake's light belly, work to differentiate these two species.
Maps and External Sources
Ringneck Snake (Diadophis punctatus)
Northern Ringneck Snake (Diadophis punctatus edwardsii)
Southern Ringneck Snake (Diadophis punctatus punctatus)
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