northern ringneck snake (Diadophis punctatus edwardsii)
CHARACTERISTICS: The adult is gray to bluish black above with a
flat black head. The neck ring and ventral color varies from yellowish
to reddish. The neck ring may be incomplete. The belly is unmarked or
has a row of dark, half-moon-shaped spots along its length. The juvenile
has a velvety black dorsum and an even blacker head. Most adults are
from 10-15 inches (25.4-38 cm) long. This species lays from 2-10 whit-
ish eggs in rotting logs in June or early July. Several clusters may be
laid together in a communal nest. The 3 1/2- to 5- inch young hatch in
late summer. This species will twist and raise its tail like a corkscrew
when approached by certain predators.
DISTRIBUTION: This species is found statewide in Virginia with the
exception of the lower portion of the Eastern Shore although not all
counties are represented by specimens. It inhabits moist wooded areas
in both pine and hardwood, where there is an abundance of rotting logs,
old stumps, and loose bark to provide hiding places. It is also found in
cutover lands, sawdust piles, field edges and even suburban backyards.
This is the most common snake in the Shenandoah National Park and the
Great Dismal Swamp. The ringneck snake is secretive, inhabiting the leaf
litter and upper soil horizon community. It is seldom encountered in the
FOODS: This species feeds on insects, earthworms, small snakes, small
lizards, salamanders and frogs. It usually swallows its prey whole, but
may also use partial constriction.
Crooked Run Valley