RING-NECKED SNAKE
Diadophis punctatus
(Linnaeus 1766)


dī-ă-dō-fĭs — pŭnk-tā-tŭs




An adult from Clark County. Image © Suzanne L. Collins, CNAH.
An adult from Seward County. Image © Ryan Shofner.
An adult Ring-necked Snake from Logan County, Kansas.
An adult from Rooks County. Image © Suzanne L. Collins, CNAH.
Two adults (one albino) from Johnson County.Image © Suzanne L. Collins, CNAH.

Description:
HARMLESSLY VENOMOUS. Uses its venom to subdue prey, but is not dangerous to humans because a) they have an ineffective venom delivery mechanism, b) their mouths too small to gain purchase, and c) their venom is not adapted for causing physiological damage to mammals. 
Smooth scales. Adults are small and slender. The head and body can be gray, blue-black or grayish-brown. The belly is yellow with irregularly spaced black spots (belly spots occasionally form a longitudinal row(s)). The underside of the tail is bright orange-red. Conspicuous yellow or light orange ring around the neck (sometimes incomplete at the top).
Adults normally grow 254- 380 mm (10-15 inches) in TL; largest specimen from Kansas: female (KU 216516) from Shawnee County with TL of 456 mm (17 7/8 inches) collected by Mark Ellis on 3 July 1990; maximum length throughout range: 27 11/16 inches (Conant and Collins, 1998); maximum weight for Kansas specimen : 15.2 grams (slightly over ½ ounce).

Distribution:
Known from the eastern third of the state. It makes it into the western third along the Cimarron, Arkansas, and Smoky Hill River drainages.

(, Museum Voucher) (, Observation) (, Literature Record)
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  • Occurrence Summary:  
  • 3,909 Total Records 
  • 3,638 Museum Vouchers 
  • 271 Other Observations 
Some county occurrences indicated below may be too imprecise to map above.
County Breakdown: County Name (# occurrences):
Allen (59); Anderson (360); Atchison (30); Barber (21); Barton (3); Bourbon (121); Brown (6); Butler (2); Chase (67); Chautauqua (52); Cherokee (188); Clark (57); Clay (17); Cloud (5); Coffey (20); Comanche (10); Cowley (823); Crawford (84); Dickinson (32); Doniphan (58); Douglas (182); Elk (21); Ellis (98); Ellsworth (46); Franklin (31); Geary (33); Gove (1); Graham (1); Gray (1); Greenwood (35); Hamilton (1); Harper (5); Harvey (1); Jackson (3); Jefferson (33); Jewell (14); Johnson (68); Kiowa (15); Labette (60); Leavenworth (68); Lincoln (10); Linn (27); Logan (6); Lyon (34); Marion (14); Marshall (116); McPherson (3); Meade (17); Miami (35); Mitchell (6); Montgomery (54); Morris (41); Nemaha (2); Neosho (33); Ness (3); Norton (2); Osage (29); Osborne (8); Ottawa (4); Phillips (6); Pottawatomie (45); Pratt (1); Reno (1); Republic (10); Rice (2); Riley (164); Rooks (18); Rush (7); Russell (203); Saline (4); Scott (18); Sedgwick (1); Seward (2); Shawnee (66); Sheridan (1); Smith (4); Sumner (8); Trego (19); Unknown (8); Wabaunsee (16); Wallace (2); Washington (29); Wilson (36); Woodson (19); Wyandotte (42);

Natural History:
Found under rocks and logs in forests, woodland edge, pastures, urban lots, and rocky glades. Active from March-November. Breeds March to April; lays 2-8 (average of 4) eggs per clutch in moist areas such as underneath or inside rotting logs. The eggs hatch in late August or early September. The hatchlings are 3-4 inches long. Mostly eats earthworms. When touched on the head, will often react by curling its tail and displaying its red underside toward the perceived attacker. Never bites. Not uncommon to find 20 or more under a single cover object in eastern Kansas during April-May.

Occurrence Activity:
White dates indicate there is at least a single recorded occurrence on that date. The darker blue a date is, the greater the relative number of observations for that date.
Remarks:
In eastern Kansas, it is not uncommon to find 20 or more Ring-necked Snakes under a single piece of cover (rock, board, etc.) during April and May. This species is occasionally observed crossing roads well away from rocky areas and may ultimately be discovered in all but the extreme northwestern corner of the state.
Fifteen of these snakes were found under one rock in Cowley county, Kansas, on 8 April 1933 by Charles E. Burt (Burt and Hoyle, 1935).

Bibliography:
1766 Linné, Carl von (=Linneaus). Systema Naturae per regna tria naturae, secundum classes, ordines, genera, species cum characteribus, differentiis, synonymis, locis. Tomus I Laurentii Salvii, Stockholm, Holmiae, Editio duodecima, reformata (12th Edition). 1-532pp.
1859 Kennicott, Robert. Notes on Coluber calligaster of Say, and a description of new species of serpents in the collection of the North Western University of Evanston, Illinois. Proceedings of the Academy of Natural Sciences, Philadelphia 1859():98-100
1860 Cope, Edward D. Catalogue of the Colubridae in the Museum of the Academy of Natural Sciences of Philadelphia, with notes and descriptions of new species. Part 2. Proceedings of the Academy of Natural Sciences, Philadelphia 12():241-266
1860 Cope, Edward D. Supplement to "A catalogue of the venomous serpents in the Museum of the Academy," etc. Supplement to "A catalogue of the venomous serpents in the Museum of the Academy" etc 12():72-74
1877 Mozley, Annie E List of Kansas snakes in the museum of the Kansas State Univeristy Transactions of the Kansas Academy of Science 6():34-35
1882 Yarrow, Henry C. Check list of North American Reptilia and Batrachia with catalogue of specimens in U. S. National Museum. Bulletin of the United States National Museum (24):1-249
1883 Garman, Samuel. The reptiles and batrachians of North America.  Kentucky Geological Survey. Yeoman Press., Frankfort, Kentucky. 185pp.
1883 Garman, Samuel. The reptiles and batrachians of North America. Memiors of the Museum of Comparative Zoology, Harvard University 8(3):xxxi + 1-185
1903 Stone, Witmer. A collection of reptiles and batrachians from Arkansas, Indian Territory and western Texas. Proceedings of the Academy of Natural Sciences, Philadelphia 55():538-542
1904 Branson, Edwin B. Snakes of Kansas. University of Kansas Science Bulletin 2(13):353-430
1907 Ditmars, Raymond L. The Reptile Book; A comprehensive, Popularised Work on the Structure and Habits of the Turtles, Tortoises, Crocodilians, Lizards and Snakes which Inhabit the United States and Northern Mexico. Doubleday, Pae, and Company, New York. 472pp.
1911 Hurter, Julius. Herpetology of Missouri. Transactions of the Academy of Science St. Louis 20(5):59-274
1925 Linsdale, Jean M. Land Vertebrates of a Limited Area in Eastern Kansas. Thesis. University of Kansas, Lawrence, Kansas. 312pp.
1927 Linsdale, Jean M. Amphibians and reptiles of Doniphan County, Kansas. Copeia 1927(164):75-81
1928 Burt, Charles E. Some distributional and ecological records of Kansas reptiles. Transactions of the Academy of Science St. Louis 26():186-208
1929 Taylor, Edward H. A revised checklist of the snakes of Kansas. University of Kansas Science Bulletin 19(5):53-62
1932 Gloyd, Howard K. The herpetological fauna of the Pigeon Lake Region, Miami County, Kansas. Papers of the Museum of Zoology, University of Michigan 15():389-408
1933 Stejneger, Leonhard and Thomas Barbour. A Checklist of North American Amphibians and Reptiles. 3rd Edition. Harvard University Press, Cambridge,Massachusetts. pp.
1934 Brennan, Lawrence A. A check list of the amphibians and reptiles of Ellis County, Kansas. Transactions of the Kansas Academy of Science 37():189-191
1934 Burt, Charles E. and W. L. Hoyle. Additional records of the reptiles of the central prairie region of the United States. Transactions of the Kansas Academy of Science 37():193-216
1935 Brennan, Lawrence A. Notes on the Distribution of Amphibia and Reptilia of Ellis County, Kansas. Thesis. Fort Hays State University, Hays, Kansas. 114pp.
1935 Burt, Charles E. Further records of the ecology and distribution of amphibians and reptiles in the middle west. American Midland Naturalist 16(3):311-366
1935 Burt, Charles E. and William L. Hoyle. Additional records of the reptiles of the central prairie region of the United States Transactions of the Kansas Academy of Science 37():193-216
1937 Brennan, Lawrence A. A study of the habitat of reptiles and amphibians of Ellis County, Kansas. Transactions of the Kansas Academy of Science 40():341-347
1953 Schmidt, Karl P. A Check List of North American Amphibians and Reptiles. 6th Edition. University of Chicago Press, Chicago, Illinois. 280pp.
1956 Loomis, Richard B. The chigger mites of Kansas (Acarina, Trombiculidae). University of Kansas Science Bulletin 37():1195-1443
1962 Gish, Charles D. The Herpetofauna of Ellis County, Kansas. Thesis. Fort Hays State University, Hays, Kansas. 34pp.
1969 Branson, Branley A., James Triplett, and Robert Hartmann. A partial biological survey of the Spring River drainage in Kansas, Oklahoma and Missouri. Part II: The fishes. Transactions of the Kansas Academy of Science 72(4):429-472
1970 Fitch, Henry S. Reproductive cycles in lizards and snakes. University of Kansas Museum of Natural History Miscellaneous Publication (52):1-247
1975 Fitch, Henry S. A demographic study of the Ringneck Snake (Diadophis punctatus) in Kansas. University of Kansas Museum of Natural History Miscellaneous Publication (62):53
1976 Caldwell, Janalee P. and Gregory. Glass. Vertebrates of the Woodson County State Fishing Lake and Game Management Area. Pages 62-76 in Preliminary inventory of the biota of Woodson County State Fishing Lake and Game Management Area. Report No. 5. State Biological Survey of Kansas, Lawrence. pp.
1978 Carl, Gary. Notes on worm eating in the Prairie Ringneck Snake, Diadophis punctatus arnyi. Bulletin of the Maryland Herpetological Society 14(2):95-97
1978 Fitch, Henry S. and E. Raymond Hall. A 20year record of succession on reseeded fields of tallgrass prairie on the Rockefeller Experimental Tract. University of Kansas Museum of Natural History Special Publication (4):1-15
1980 Clarke, Robert F. Herptiles and fishes of the western Arkansas River in Kansas. United States Army Corps of Engineers, Albuquerque, New Mexico. 55pp.
1981 Fitch, Henry S. Sexual size differences in reptiles. University of Kansas Museum of Natural History Miscellaneous Publication 70():71
1982 Fitch, Henry S. Resources of a snake community in prairie-woodland habitat of northeastern Kansas. Pages 83-97 in Herpetological communities: A symposium of the Society for the Study of Amphibians and Reptiles and the Herpetologists League, August 1977.  Wildlife Research Reports 12. 239 pp. U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Washington, D. C. pp.
1985 Fitch, Henry S. Variation in clutch and litter size in New World reptiles. University of Kansas Museum of Natural History Miscellaneous Publication (76):1-76
1989 Collins, Joseph T. New records of amphibians and reptiles in Kansas for 1988. Kansas Herpetological Society Newsletter (75):15-18
1991 Fitch, Henry S. Reptiles and amphibians of the Kansas ecological reserves. Pages 71-74 in Multidisciplinary Guidebook 4. Kansas Academy of Science, Lawrence. pp.
1993 Fitch, Henry S. Relative abundance of snakes in Kansas. Transactions of the Kansas Academy of Science 96():213-224
1994 Fitzgerald, Eve and Charles Nilon Classification of habitats for endangered and threatened species in Wyandotte County, Kansas Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks, Pratt, Kansas. 98pp.
1996 Miller, Larry L. Many amphibian and reptile species identified during KHS 1996 fall field trip to Wabaunsee County. Kansas Herpetological Society Newsletter (106):2-3
1996 Miller, Larry L. Third graders conduct amphibian and reptile field study. Kansas Herpetological Society Newsletter (106):15
1999 Fitch, Henry S. A Kansas Snake Community: Composition and Changes over 50 Years. Krieger Publishing Company, Malabar, Florida. pp.
1999 Taggart, Travis W. Cherokee County fall 1999 herp count. Kansas Herpetological Society Newsletter (117):6
2000 Taggart, Travis W. Biogeographic analysis of the reptiles (Squamata) in Ellis County, Kansas. Kansas Herpetological Society Newsletter (121):7-16
2000 Taggart, Travis W. KHS spring field trip sets record for attendance. Kansas Herpetological Society Newsletter (120):5-5
2000 Taggart, Travis W. Results of the KHS 2000 fall field trip. Kansas Herpetological Society Newsletter (122):6-8
2001 Taggart, Travis W. The KHS 2001 spring field trip: A rainy rendezvous. Kansas Herpetological Society Newsletter (124):12-14
2002 Miller, Larry L. Shawnee County herp count. Journal of Kansas Herpetology (4):15
2002 Miller, Larry L. Sumner County herp count. Journal of Kansas Herpetology (4):15
2002 Taggart, Travis W. Results of the KHS 2002 fall field Trip. Journal of Kansas Herpetology (4):11-13
2003 Freeman, Craig C. A natural areas inventory of the Ft. Leavenworth Military Reservation, Leavenworth County, Kansas. II. Open-file Report No. 117. Kansas Biological Survey, Lawrence, Kansas. 199pp.
2003 Taggart, Travis W. Results of the KHS 2003 fall field trip. Journal of Kansas Herpetology (8):14-15
2004 Fitch, Henry S. Observations on Ringneck Snakes (Diadophis punctatus). Journal of Kansas Herpetology (12):19
2004 McNearney, Ross. Life history. Diadophis punctatus. Albino. Journal of Kansas Herpetology (10):11
2004 Taggart, Travis W. Results of the KHS 2004 fall feld trip . Journal of Kansas Herpetology (12):15-16
2005 Taggart, Travis W. Results of the KHS 2005 fall field trip [to Crawford County]. Journal of Kansas Herpetology (16):19-21
2005 Taggart, Travis W. and Curtis J. Schmidt. Geographic distribution: Diadophis punctatus. Journal of Kansas Herpetology (14):11
2006 Miller, Larry L Late Fall Ringneck Snake activity Journal of Kansas Herpetology (17):6
2006 Taggart, Travis W. Distribution and status of Kansas herpetofauna in need of information. State Wildlife Grant T7. Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks, Pratt. vii + 106pp.
2007 Taggart, Travis W., Joseph T. Collins, and Curtis J. Schmidt. Estimates of amphibian, reptile, and turtle mortality if Phostoxin is applied to 10,000 acres of prairie dog burrows in Logan County, Kansas. Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks, Pratt. 5pp.
2008 Taggart, Travis W. KHS 2008 spring field trip. Journal of Kansas Herpetology (25):2-3
2010 Miller, Larry L. 2010 Investigation of the Checkered Garter Snake in Kansas with notes on other Amphibians, Reptiles, and Turtles encountered. Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks, Pratt, Kansas. 31pp.
2011 McMartin, David C. U. S. Army 2011 Fort Leavenworth Herpetofaunal Survey: 23 April - 09 May 2011. Privately printed, Leavenworth, Kansas. 33pp.
2012 Hamilton, Bryan Tyler, Rachel Hart , and Jack W. Sites Jr. Feeding Ecology of the Milksnake (Lampropeltis triangulum, Colubridae) in the Western United States. Journal of Herpetology 46(4):515-522
2012 Rohweder, Megan R. Spatial conservation prioritization of Kansas for terrestrial vertebrates. Thesis. Fort Hays State University, Hays, Kansas. 151pp.
2016 Pittman, Galen L., Henry S. Fitch, and W. Dean Kettle Vertebrate animals on the Fitch Natural History Reservation (1948-2002) Kansas Biological Survey Report Number 188, Lawrence. 48pp.
Account Last Updated:
5/14/2019 12:10:12 PM


Travis W. Taggart © 2020 — Sternberg Museum of Natural History, Fort Hays State University