Ring-necked snakes are small and slender snakes that are fairly common throughout many habitats – but not often seen. This one squirted out from beneath a cedar tree I was cutting down last weekend.
Ring-necked snakes are nocturnal snakes that come out at night to feed on earthworms and other invertebrates. The rest of the time they are most often found beneath logs or other dark places where they can stay cool and moist during the day. They often live in colonies, so if you find one there may be quite a few more nearby. This one seemed to be alone, as far as I could tell.
The most intriguing thing to me about ring-necked snakes is their habit of coiling their tail when they’re threatened. The salmon color of this snake’s underside, combined with the tight coiling of the tail created an image that looked much like an earthworm. I wondered if this was a technique used to attract predators away from the snake’s head so they would attack the (less valuable?) tail portion instead. I’ve not seen any corroboration of this – so I’d appreciate knowing if anyone else has ideas or information…
Another defense mechanism of this snake is to play dead if it’s being harassed. We saw this in action after I handed the snake to my 10 year old son so he could look at it. He was very gentle, but after a few minutes of “examination” the snake apparently had enough handling and went completely limp. Even it’s eyes looked dead (or at least not right). When my son handed it back to me I thought for sure we had a dead snake on our hands, but after a few moments of being left alone, the tongue flicked out a few times and the snake miraculously came back to life… Pretty neat.