Are Ringneck Snakes Poisonous

Are Ringneck Snakes Poisonous?

The Ringneck snake, with its distinctive neck ring, makes keeping a pet like this more ‘pet-like’. This is because the snake comes looking as though it has its own collar on.

If the snake did have a collar with an up to date identification tag, it would tell you that the Ring-necked snake (Diadophis punctatus) is a mildly venomous snake. It would also tell you that it is a relatively small snake, reaching a maximum length of about 30 inches.

The attractive snake’s head is flattened and the smooth scales give the serpent a healthy glossy appearance.

Are Ringneck Snakes Poisonous

Are Ringneck Snakes Poisonous?

These snakes are slightly venomous. Ring-necked snakes don’t have a true venom gland. They have the  Duvernoy’s gland.  This gland produces toxic saliva which is used to help the snake paralyze and subdue their prey. A person bitten by a Ringneck could suffer from some bleeding, swelling and bruising.

A Distinctive Gold-Color Ring

The snake is fairly easy to identify because of its bright underside colorations. The snakes are solid olive, brown-black, or bluish-gray. These earthy colors help them with being camouflaged in nature.

The snake’s yellow or orange band around the back of the neck is a sure giveaway that this is a Ringneck. In fact, the snake’s common name refers to the distinct yellow, orange and red band or ring around the neck of the serpent. There are, however, some snakes that lack the distinctive neck ring.

A Secretive but Social Reptile

The small snake is somewhat secretive, and perhaps because of their small size and nocturnal nature, you won’t often see this snake. You’ll sometimes spot a Ringneck during daylight hours sunning and warming itself, but they are essentially active at night.   For this reason, it is thought to be uncommon.

However, studies conducted, suggest that the snake does actually exist at densities greater than 1000 per hectare. Despite their secretiveness, the snake is social and they form large colonies. A number of them will share the same microhabitat. By touching and rubbing, they communicate with each other.

These snakes, with several sub-species, hail from southeastern Canada, most of the United States and into central Mexico. This is a huge geographic range.

Are Ringneck Snakes Poisonous

Habitat of the Ringsnake

The Ringneck snake loves leaves, inhabiting forests, woodlands, bushy areas, logs, hillsides, grasslands, rocky- and moist areas.  Between these different areas, it feeds on lizards,  salamanders, frogs, earthworms and other small snakes, swallowing their prey whole.

The snake will use partial constriction to subdue their meal.  In these habitats, the Ringneck falls prey to a variety of animals – screech owls, skunks, armadillos, possums, bullfrogs, and even other snakes. If a Ringneck is lucky and manages to avoid being a meal for these animals, it can sometimes reach as much as 20 years of age.

The Role of the Duvernoy’s Gland

There are snakes with a  long strip of tissue, the superior labial gland, beneath the labial scales on either side of the head. Secretions are discharged into the furrow between the lip and gum.

The back part of the superior labial gland develops into a separate gland, and this is what is known as the  Duvernoy’s gland. Mucus secretions come from the labial gland while the Duvernoy’s gland produces venom.

There are 3 types of Duvernoy’s glands – Type I, II and III, with Type I being the least harmful. You’ll find Type III glands in deadly rear-fanged snakes.

The Ringneck snake is an example of a snake that is essentially harmless but not quite non-venomous. The snake injects their venom through the teeth found in their upper jaws. Because the delivery system isn’t as developed as a true venomous snake, these snakes need to chew on their prey to inject the venom.

The Ringneck is a Colubrid snake and considered to be harmless. There are about 1,760 species of colubrids, and they account for about two-thirds of the world’s snakes.

Even for the venomous colubrid species, a bite unaccompanied by chewing is rarely harmful to humans.

Ringnecks are ‘Rear-Fanged’

While the Ringneck does have fangs at the back of their jaw, they can’t open their mouths wide enough to bite a human. They don’t try to bite and their venom is mild.

When they come across potential predators, they expose the warning colors of their bellies. They roll their tails into a tight spiral to display the red ventral color. The ventral scales are those enlarged scales that extend down the underside of the body from the neck to the anal scale.

If this defensive tactic isn’t effective, the snake will emit a foul-smelling odor. If the predator is unphased with this offensive odor, the Ringneck will try biting as a last resort.

A Nip during Breeding

Ring-neck snakes reach sexual maturity at 3 years of age. They mate mostly during spring. The female secretes pheromones from her skin, attracting the males. He rubs his closed jaw along the length of her body, finally giving her a solid nip on her neck ring. The female will then lay her eggs sometime in June.

Are Ringneck Snakes Poisonous

She deposits the eggs in moist areas and they’ll hatch in August or September. Between 3 and 10 eggs are laid. The eggs are white with yellow ends. The female could care less about the eggs, and when the hatchlings emerge, she is long gone. She has no part in their rearing. The juvenile Ringnecks take care of themselves from word go without any help from the female.

The Ring-Neck as a Pet

The Ring-necked snake enjoys a share in the exotic pet trade market. The snake’s drawcard is its cool temperament, its interesting patterns, and colors and the fact that it has a hint of venom. True, they can be caught in the wild, but you have to be very knowledgeable on snakes and their habits, otherwise, a snake like this won’t survive in captivity.

If you’re looking to own this reptile as a pet, it is better to find one that has already been living in captivity, rather than capturing one from the wild.

The Ringneck is ideal for someone wanting a low-maintenance pet that can be accommodated in a smallish terrarium. A 10-gallon cage will be appropriate for your pet Ringneck Snake. You may want to add some decorative elements such as plants, branches, and a hide box.

Other items to consider to ensure your snake’s wellbeing include –

  • Choose peat moss/soil mixture with some bark strips. It should be about 2 or 3 inches deep. The soil needs to be kept partially damp. It will need to be changed 2 or 3 times a year to prevent mold and bacteria.
  • An incandescent bulb above the cage will be a good idea for providing your snake with heat.
  • Freshwater needs to be available at all times. A good idea is to provide the enclosure with a light misting to keep the soil mixture moist.
  • The temperature range for the Ringneck snake is 70-75° Fahrenheit. The way to ensure the cage’s ambient temperature is to use a basking light or heat emitter.

Great small pet

This snake is perfect for someone who definitely wants a small pet snake and doesn’t want to deal with having a large enclosure in their home. They’re the type of snakes that can acclimate to many types of habitats. However, they prefer wooded areas with lots of hiding places such as logs, leave and stones. If you choose the Ringneck as a pet, a good ‘cave’ or hiding place is an essential pet snake accessory in the enclosure.

No Mice for this Snake

In captivity, Ringnecks are looked upon as being low maintenance. They do like to hide a lot, and they’re peace-loving reptiles so they’re not going to be particularly entertaining. They can still make super rewarding pets though.

Ringnecks can actually do well with a minimal cage set up, and this is particularly good news for people who live in small spaces and who badly want a pet.  In the wild, they eat lots of small invertebrates You can try to feed your Ringneck some insects such as crickets, although earthworms are a favorite. Feed your snake two to four times a week. Not having to feed this snake mice or other rodents is appealing to some snake owners.


There are lots of people who are fascinated by snakes. They’re not able to keep a dog or cat but they definitely want a pet. Snakes make awesome pets, but to keep any wild animals, you need to apply for a permit. You also need to know something of the reptile – whether it is venomous or not and whether it is likely to bite or not.

You’ll also need to know that snakes battle to adapt to a new environment, and that is why knowledge of the snake you’re going to keep as a pet is imperative. The enclosure has to be as natural as possible.

The Ringneck is a popular species to keep as a pet. The snake’s non-aggressive nature, its reluctance to bite and the fact that it is looked upon as non-poisonous make it popular to keep at home. It is suited for children too.

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