Diadophis punctactus arnyi, also known as the prairie ringneck snake, is a small, thin member of the Colubrid Family. The subspecific name is in honor of Samuel Arny, who collected the type specimen.[1]

Geographic rangeEdit

This snake is very common and can be found almost anywhere in Midwest North America, i.e., Iowa, Missouri and northwestern Arkansas to South Dakota, Oklahoma and Texas.[2]


It has a black-grey head, a grey body, and an orange ring around its neck. The ring does not extend toward the underside. The underside is yellow for a third of the body, orange for another third, and red for the last third. The belly also has black flecks along it. This snake has a blunt head, a tiny mouth, and small eyes. Anteriorly the dorsal scales are usually in 17 rows (other eastern subspecies have 15 rows).[3] A mature prairie ringneck grows to about 25-36 cm (10-14 in.) long, record 42 cm (16½ in.).[4]

Diet and behaviorEdit

This snake eats insects, frogs, salamanders, other snakes, lizards, and newborn rodents. It uses a weak venom (not harmful to humans) in the saliva in its mouth to immobilize its prey. It also uses constriction.

When approached, the snake's first intent is to flee. It is usually a slow snake, so it can be caught quickly. When picked up, it tries to escape but rarely bites (although it does happen). It may also twist its brightly colored tail and lie on its back to draw attention away from its head.

Habitats Edit

The prairie ringneck snake (as its name suggests) lives in or near prairies and can often be found sunbathing or slithering out in the open. It can also be found under old logs, rocks, pieces of wood and sheets of tin. It likes to live under dead leaves and foliage in the woods, and in grasses in the prairie.

Reproduction Edit

From June to early August, females lay 1 to 7 eggs (average 4). The eggs are on average 27 mm (1 in.) long by 7 mm (¼ in.) wide. After being laid, the eggs increase in size until hatching. Hatching occurs after about 60 days. The hatchlings are around 100 mm (4 in.) in total length, and resemble adults except with a bluish cast dorsally.[5]

Brumation and estivation Edit

This snake will estivate in the summer if the temperature is to hot and brumate in the winter when it is too cold. This is because the snake is an ectotherm (that is, cold-blooded) and needs to stay warm enough or cool enough to survive. This is part of the reason why you can see them sunbathing when the temperature is warm.

[6] [7] [8] [9] (click here for picture)

References Edit


  1. Beltz, Ellin. 2006. Scientific and Common Names of the Reptiles and Amphibians of North America - Explained.
  2. Schmidt, K.P. and D.D. Davis. 1941. Field Book of Snakes of the United States and Canada. G.P. Putnam's Sons. New York.
  3. Smith, H.M. and E.D. Brodie, Jr. 1982. A Guide to Field Identification: Reptiles of North America. Golden Press. New York.
  4. Conant, Roger. 1975. A Field Guide to Reptiles and Amphibians of Eastern and Central North America, second edition. Houghton Mifflin. Boston.
  5. Wright, A.H. and A.A. Wright. 1957. Handbook of Snakes of the United States and Canada. Comstock. Ithaca and London.
  6. 1992 World Book Encyclopedia
  7. S-Sn #17 Page 532

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