Least Concern Conservation Status
Scientific Name
Diadophis punctatus
All of Virginia
Also Known As
Fodder Snake, Yellow Belly Ring Snake
Black Body With a White Collar Around the Neck
Earthworms, Salamanders, Lizards
Litter Size
2 to 7 Eggs per Birth
Life Span
20 Years
10 - 15 Inches

Quick Links for Ring-Necked Snake

Ring-Necked Snake Description

Ring-Necked Snake Appearance

These snakes have a body-color from bluish-gray to black with a yellow or orange ring around their neck. Its belly color always matches the color of the ring on its neck. Generally, the colors are uniform but sometimes these snakes appear with spots, this is probably due to one of their parents being another of the species ring-necked snake. The ring around its neck can be solid or be broken in the middle, this is due to the two subspecies that live here in Virginia.
A snake with a solid ring around its neck is the Northern Ring-Necked Snake, while a snake with a broken ring is the Southern Ring-Necked Snake.


This snake is usually between 10 to 15 inches long.

The maximum length is about 19 inches long, however, the record length found was about 28 inches long. (Virginia’s record length is about 16).

Juveniles tend to be 3.5 to 5 inches long.

Ring-Necked Snake

The ring on this snake’s neck can be solid or with a gap. If you find one with a gap in the middle it is a Southern species. Otherwise it is a Northern species.

Ringnecked Snake Behavior

These snakes are thought to be rare here in Virginia, but they are very shy and secretive. Their small size and being nocturnal, makes the sightings even more rare. But here in Virginia they are classified as secure, and there are many of them here.

These snakes like to hide in brush and other yard debris, and love to be near the forest edge so that they can have a place to hide and a place to hunt.

Despite their rarity they are social animals and tend to hang out in groups of the same species.

These snakes rarely bite, and when they do there shouldn’t be any pain for you and rarely leave a mark.

It is against the law in Virginia to keep any wild snake as a pet.

Range and Habitat


These snakes can be found found everywhere in Virginia. These snakes can be found as far north as Canada and Wisconsin, and as far south as Tennessee.


These snakes love moist woodlands, but it will also be found on the edges of wetlands, and the open areas of mountains and hilly areas. This snake also loves to be in moist humid basements.

Ring-Necked Snake Map Range

These Snakes can only be found everywhere in Virginia


These snakes prefer to eat Earthworms, Salamanders, Lizards, and insects. It’s favorite food is the red-backed salamander.

Northern vs Southern Ringed Snake

The Northern and Southern Ringed Snake differences are very small. So small, there are no changes in diet, size, habitat, mating habits, etc. The only difference is where in Virginia they are, and how they look.

Differences in Appearance

The Northern Ringsnake’s ring on their neck will be a solid unbroken line, they will also have a single or 2 lines of dots on their bellies.

The Southern Ringsnake’s ring on their neck will be broken with a gap in the middle as shown in the image. They will also have multiple lines of dots on their bellies.

Besides these 2 things, there is not much difference in appearance between these 2 snakes.

Ring Snake Differences

Differences in Range

These snakes are everywhere in Virginia, however, the Southern Ringneck’s range is Southeastern Virginia, while the Northern Ringneck can be found in the mountains to the west and north. However, both can be found in central Virginia, and sometimes interbreeding occurs, making their appearance a little different from the two.

Reproduction and Young


These snakes only breed one a year in the spring or fall. During the mating season, females release pheromones from their skin to attract males. When mating, the male will bite the female around the neck ring

Eggs and Young

Eggs are laid in June or early July in covered moist locations, and will hatch in August and September.

Small Child holding a Ring-Necked Snake

These snakes very rarely bite humans, as long as you don’t hurt it, you are not in any danger of getting bit.

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