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This site was created by students in the herpetology class at Towson University. Site last updated: 05/21/07.
Acknowledgements: Herb Harris - Range Maps; Mark Tegges - Photography; Dan Lapascha & Gigi Forester - TU Herpetology Logo
Northern Ring-necked snake
This small snake is dark colored, usually blue-gray to black, with a golden or orange-red ring around the neck. The ring can sometimes be interrupted or absent, but it is frequently the key characteristic to easily identify this snake. The venter is similarly orange-yellow to red, and will sometimes have black spots. Adults reach 25-38 cm long, and females are usually larger than males. The scales are smooth, and the anal plate is divided. Young are 10-15 cm long at hatching and have the same coloration as adults.
These snakes are secretive and prefer moist, dark places under leaf litter, loose soil, or other debris. They can often be found in woodlands near rocky hillsides or areas with abundant cover, but may also be seen in residential areas nearby.
Mating occurs in spring or fall, and eggs are laid in June or early July. Females that mate in the fall may delay fertilization until the following summer. Females lay 3-10 eggs in June or July in covered, moist locations. Eggs may be laid in communal nests if females are abundant in an area. Young hatch after 2 months and take 2-3 years to fully mature.
Distribution in Maryland
Range map adapted from Harris, 1975.