Diadophis punctatus stictogenys (Cope)
the Mississippi Ringneck Snake
Diadophis punctatus stictogenys Cope, 1860:74-79.
Diadophis punctatus stictogenys Cope, 1860:74-79. Type-locality: unknown; designated as southern Illinois by Schmidt (1953).
Size: Adults, 8-20 inches; hatchlings, no more than 5 inches.
Identifying Attributes: Black head and dark gray body separated by a golden ring at the neck. Cream colored lips, chin, and neck, yellow belly, and dark orange under tail. A double row of black scallops runs along the center of the ventral surface. Loreal scale is present; smooth scales; 17 scale rows at midbody; divided anal plate.
Range: Throughout the southeastern through central United States, including as far north as Illinois.
Macro: In pine forests, timbered hillsides, broken fields near water, bottoms of ravines and gullies, and wooded hills.
Micro: Under logs, sphagnum, stones, loose bark from fallen trunks, damp leaves, leaf mats, and bark and loose litter around stumps and tree bases.
Feeding: Preys on small vertebrates as well as insects and other small invertebrates.
Behavior: Secretive, seldom encountered in the open. Do not bite, but will release foul-smelling feces and musk from anal glands when threatened. Also uses exaggerated tail coiling to detract predators from the head.
Reproduction: Oviparous, 2-8 eggs, around 5 weeks to hatch.
Period of Activity: Commonly found during the entire year, most frequently beginning in March. Predators: Birds of prey, other snakes, and bullfrogs.