Field Guide to Maryland's Snakes (Order Squamata)

Ring-Necked Snake (Diadophis punctatus)

Photo of Northern Ring-necked Snake courtesy of Linh Phu
Photo of Northern Ring-necked Snake courtesy of Linh Phu

Photo of Southern Ring-necked Snake courtesy of Matt Close
Photo of Southern Ring-necked Snake courtesy of Matt Close

Former Name:
Ring-necked Snake​

10 - 15 inches. Record - 27¾ inches.

  • A plain slender snake with a cream-to-yellow neck collar and yellow belly, which may grade to red towards the tail.
  • The back is a uniform dark gray, bluish black or brown.
  • Two main coloration types seen in Maryland. These include:
    • complete neck ring, and belly has no or small black spots down the midline (northern ring-necked snake)
    • broken or notched neck ring behind head, and belly has large, black half-moon shaped spots down the midline (southern ring-necked snake found on Eastern Shore)
  • Scales not keeled.

Ring-necked Snakes 


Primarily found in hardwood and mixed pine-hardwood forests, but will also occur in agricultural lands next to woodlots and backyards. Usually found associated with moisture.

How to Find:

A secretive nocturnal species. Look under coarse woody debris and junk piles and within rotting logs in moist (mesic) woodlands. Young are often discovered in residences after first cold snap of late Summer/early Fall. Will not bite when handled but may discharge foul-smelling feces and musk. Non-venomous.

Distribution in Maryland:

Ring-necked snakes can be found throughout Maryland. ​

Ring-necked Snake - Distribution in Maryland