Ring-necked snakes are small, slender and secretive snakes. They are rarely seen during the day time. These snakes are easily recognisable by their small size, uniform dark colour on the back, bright yellow-orange belly and distinct yellow ring around the neck. They are slightly venomous but are not aggressive in nature. Their small rear-facing fangs pose little threat to humans.
Ring-necked snakes have plain brownish, black, bluish-black, or slate-gray coloured body. These snakes have large, flat head. Their head tends to be slightly darker in colour than rest of their body. There is usually a yellow or orange ring around the neck, though, rarely, the ring may be incomplete. The belly is orange and has many small, black spots. The underside of the tail is bright red. Females are larger and have proportionally shorter tails than males.
These snakes have smooth scales with 15 to 17 scale rows at mid body. Males typically have small tubercles on their scales just anterior to the vent which are usually absent in females.
Ring-necked snakes are nocturnal, so they are mostly seen at night. They are sociable, which means they are often found hiding together. They also sometimes lay eggs in the same places.
When threatened, ring-necked snakes have a variety of defences. First, they coil their tail and show the bright underside of their belly to try to frighten the attacker. Next, they will release a foul-smelling odour. If these tricks don’t work then they will bite savagely.
Female ring-necked snakes lay a clutch of one to eighteen eggs. Eggs are laid underground, under rocks, or under logs. The eggs are elongate with white colour contrasted by yellow ends. Eggs hatch in about two months. Young ring-necks are four inches long when they are born. They do not get any parental care.
Ring-necked snakes grow to be 10 to 15 inches in length.
The diet of these snakes includes a wide variety of animals like earthworms, lizards, grogs, ants, small snakes and newly born rodents. They swallow small animal whole. They suffocate large animals by constriction which means they wrap their bodies around their prey and squeeze. They hunt at night.
Ring-necked snakes are found though out USA, Canada and most of Mexico. These snakes live just about anywhere, including forests, grassy places and stream sides. They usually hide under logs, rocks, leaf litter, or matted plants.
Ring-necked snakes can live up to 20 years.