Friday, August 15, 2008

Northern Ring-neck Snake

One of the advantages of gardening green and living next to a park is that all sorts of interesting little creatures move into the garden and take up residence. It’s mid-August now, and that means it’s baby ring neck snake time. For years I’ve been finding these in the basement at this time of year. When I find them they are often tangled up in a spider web. Wayne, who lives about a mile south of me and on the same side of the creek around which the park is centered, finds them in his bedroom and living room tangled up in the fibers of the carpet. He rescued the one shown above from the carpet: after taking the image above he released the snake.

The ring neck snake here is the northern ring-neck snake, Diadophis punctatus edwardsi. The generic name is an allusion to the bright golden ring around the neck (think diadem), and the specific epithet is a reference to the spots on the abdomen in some other subspecies but not on the northern subspecies.

These small snakes are probably a lot more common than we realize, but they are very secretive. If you are in likely habitat, turn over any flat objects lying on the ground: these snakes are often found in such situations. They are relatively slow moving (at least when first uncovered) and harmless to humans. They might however excrete a malodorous fluid if molested.

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