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Reptiles of Washington

Ringneck snake
(Diadophis punctatus)


What they look like

  • Ringneck snakes can usually be distinguished by an orange or yellow band around their neck (only a few subspecies do not have these bands).
  • Their underside is also brightly orange and yellow colored. Their upper side ranges from grey to black, with their head usually having the darkest color.
  • They are small smooth slender snakes with an average adult length of 10 to 15 inches, females generally larger.

Where they live

  • Ringneck snakes can be found throughout the United States (especially along the eastern coast), southeastern Canada, and central Mexico.
  • Can adapt to many habitats but prefer to live in wooded areas.
  • Most of their time is spent hiding underground or under rocks, logs, or leaf debris.

What they eat

  • Most ringneck snakes primarily feed on salamanders and earthworms.
  • Can also eat some invertebrates, lizards, amphibians, and other small snakes.


  • In June or July, females search under rocks or rotted logs for loose soil on which to lay their eggs.
  • They lay 3 to 10 long white eggs, which will hatch around 8 weeks later.

Cool Biology Facts

  • When threatened by a predator, ringneck snakes will coil their tail and display their bright underside.
  • Ringneck snakes are so common that they can reach very high densities in some areas; a study by Henry Fitch estimated that, in Kansas, ringneck snake densities could be as high as 700 to 1,800 snakes per hectare (2.47 acres)!


Distribution Map


Ringneck snakes are considered “least concern” and are common in nearly all of their range.