Saturday, July 31, 2010

Northern Ring-Necked Snake

What’s more fun than finding a snake? I’ll bet the first answer that popped into your head was finding two snakes. You’re probably right. I had the good fortune to find this beautiful Northern Ring-Necked Snake yesterday evening. This is the first of its kind found at Blue Jay Barrens, so the find was doubly exciting.

This specimen measured in at about eleven inches, a typical adult size for this species. One look at the neck and it’s easy to see how the snake got its name.

When I found it, the snake was poking its head under and between the rocks of the creek bed. I imagine it was hunting. Normal prey items are worms, slugs and small reptiles and amphibians. That chunky tail looks to me like it could be mistaken for a food item.

Here’s where I found it. There are probably a lot of things to eat under those rocks. This snake spends a lot of time sheltered under rocks or logs and may have spent the day beneath one of those flat slabs. It was nearing sundown when I happened by and the snake had probably just come out of hiding.

The snake pulled itself into a semi-coil at my approach, but didn’t seem disturbed by my presence. I didn’t try to pick it up. Like many species of snakes, this one defends itself by putting a foul smelling substance on the attacker. The air was cool and clean and I didn’t want to smell snake stink for the rest of my walk, so I just looked at him and he just looked at me.

When he did decide to depart, it was done rapidly and straight in my direction. I wanted to get a shot of him stretched out, but I was on hands and knees and he was hurrying off between my legs. I didn’t want to risk hurting him by scrambling to turn around. A glance over my shoulder let me see him disappear beneath a big flat rock.


  1. The pictures make him look bigger than 11 inches. He's a handsome fellow! Sometimes I have to weigh my curiousity against better judgement and just let things be. Look but don't disturb. ~karen

  2. Very nice Steve- I'm jealous, in all my ramblings across Ohio, I've never had the fortune to encounter a ring-necked snake. Awesome, I hope you see these more and more at Blue Jay Barrens.

  3. Blue Jay Barrens must be sort of like what I tried to create here in my small city backyard. It has been since 1962 when we moved here that I started and made many, many false starts along the way. But I have had the requisites of a Nature Center, of sorts, in that Crows land here sometimes and eat and I have encountered garden or garter snakes here several times. Even crawdads (a leftover from when this area was more or less a swamp, I was told). Now it is not very pretty to human eyes but the birds and many other animals seem to think it is a home.

    Anyway, I did thoroughly enjoy your ring snake and all that explanations of it. I have never looked for small snakes or smaller than garter snake size. I have a pile of rocks but the snakes don't always use it. My dog used to stumble into them sunning themselves and he would jump straight up and down. After that he would walk way around them. It was funny to be sitting somewhere and suddenly see the dog jump straight up in the air.

    Thanks for the visit and comment on My Birds Blog.

  4. Lovely little snake. Our ringnecked snake has an orangey collar--we see one only in early spring, when they first comes out (and not every spring) or when digging up the garden beds.

  5. Steve...I am sorry to say I skimmed through your post ...I don't do snakes nor tick!! ; }
    He may be only eleven inches...but he looks like 2ft to give me a frog..toad... snakes !!!
    Great find for you though Hissssssss!!! : }

  6. You’re right, Karen. He looks much bigger in the picture. He was so small, it was hard to realize he was fully mature. I don’t think he was much disturbed by my curiosity.

    This was only my second, Tom. The first was on a farm south of West Union and someone pointed it out to me.

    Abe – I always tell people that there are an infinite number of things they can discover in their own backyards. I’ve figured out by your posts that you have quite a diversity outside your back door.
    I can imagine that dog was fun to watch. I’ve had a couple of dogs that overreacted to every little thing and it was hilarious to watch them react to new encounters.

    Elizabeth – I’ve read about the various color phases across the country. I’ll bet the orange is pretty.

    Sorry, grammie g. I’ll try not to ruin too many of your Saturday mornings with pictures of snakes. At least the title will let you know a snake’s being offered that day.

  7. ...I've never seen one in the wild, but I got to handle one at Shawnee--another native snake I knew nothing about before spending a week there. We called our little guy Ringo. He was a favorite! I'd love to spy one in the wild someday!!