Northern Ring-necked Snake
IN MARYLAND

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What does the northern ring-necked snake look like?

On average the southern and northern ring-necked snake is 10” to 15” inches long however on very rare occasions they have been found up to 2’ feet long. Females are usually longer then the males averaging 12” to 15” when fully grown. Males tend to be smaller averaging 10” to 12” when fully grown. The back or dorsal of the young is a blueish or blackish color and the adults tend to be lighter with a blueish or grayish or slate color. The belly or ventral of this snake is a beautiful yellowish to reddish color. There is no other distinct marking on the northern ring-neck snake except for the ring around the neck which is a yellowish or orange color. The ring around the southern ring-neck snake’s neck will appear broken and the belly (ventral) may have blackish markings. In some sub-species of the ring-neck snake the ring around the neck may be absent completely.

Where is the northern ring-necked snake found in Montgomery County?

The ring-necked snake is one of the most common snake species found in Montgomery County. Between August and October Montgomery County Snake removal professionals are over ran with calls from residents in Germantown with snakes in the basement or homeowners in Damascus with snakes in the back yard. Most often these residents have a ring–necked snake infestation.

How do northern ring-necked snakes get into homes in Montgomery County?

May homeowners in Montgomery County don’t realize they have ring-necked snakes in their basement until one is found on a sticky pad that a pest control company or exterminator put down for mice. The slender ring-necked snake can slip under doors and get in any small crack or crevice around the foundation of a home or building. Even the most skilled snake control professionals can have a hard time preventing ring-necked snakes from entering a home or building. Every crack in the foundation of the home or building must be sealed to prevent this species of snake from entering. Weather strips and tightly fitted door sweeps should be installed on all ground level doors to keep the ring-necked snake out.

What animals feed on the northern ring-neck snake?

Muskrats, opossums, shrews, other snakes, birds, raccoons, skunks, toads, bullfrogs and other snakes native to Montgomery County will feed on the ring-neck snake. New born ring-neck snakes are often eaten by spiders and insects. When threatened the northern ring-neck snake will secrete a musky smelling saliva from the corners of their mouths. Some will even roll over on their back and play dead as a defense against predators.

Is the northern ring-neck snake venomous?

The ring-neck snake is not venomous to humans however anyone bitten should clean any broken skin and seek medical attention if needed. This species has curved rear fangs and mild venom that helps to paralyze its prey. The species will bite if handled or provoked.

What does the northern ring-neck snake eat?

The ring-neck snake will feed on small lizards, salamanders, new born rodents, earthworms and other snakes.

What are the habits of the northern ring-neck snake?

The ring-neck snake is more active at night because of their super small size making them extremely susceptible to the many predators of Montgomery County. Being nocturnal also helps this snake species avoid humans. Even though this coldblooded snake is more active at night they will come out during the day and sun themselves if they need to increase their body temperature. Montgomery County has a very large population of ring-neck snakes and it is very common for homeowners in Gaithersburg, Germantown, Potomac, and Kensington to find this species of snake in the basement at some point.

The ring-neck snake is a very social animal amongst themselves. This species will form colonies of six or more snakes sharing the same habitat. Even though this species has the ability to smell and see they actually communicate with each other through rubbing or touching.

What are the hibernation habits of the northern ring-neck snake?

The ring-neck snake hibernates between October and April in The Montgomery County area. Multiple snakes will hibernate together in foundation walls of homes and buildings as well as in burrows abandoned by groundhogs, chipmunks, rats, and other underground dwellers.

What are the reproduction habits of the northern ring-neck snake?

The ring-neck snake mates once per year either in the spring or fall. If the female mates in April as she emerges from hibernation she will lay between 3 and 10 eggs sometime in June or July. These eggs will hatch sometime in August or September. If the female mates in the fall just before going into hibernation then she will lay her eggs when she emerges from hibernation in the spring (April or May). Eggs that are laid in April or May will hatch in June or July.

Eggs from a ring-neck snake are a white to an off white color and are about ¾” of an inch to 1” inch long and about ¼” inch wide. The eggs are laid in a moist area under the cover of mulch, leaf litter, plastic, old wood piles that are decaying, and even old trash. Several females will lay their eggs in the same location. The young are about 4” inches to 5” long when hatched from the egg. This species is not sexually mature until they are 3 or 4 years old.

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