Diadophis punctatus regalis - Regal Ring-necked Snake
Not considered dangerous to humans. Enlarged non-grooved teeth in the rear of the upper jaw and mild venom which may help to incapacitate small prey.
8 - 34 inches long (20 - 87cm.) A large subspecies, often exceeding 18 inches, and occasionally 24 inches.
A small, thin snake with smooth scales. A pale subspecies - light gray, olive-gray, or olive dorsal coloring, with a yellowish or light orange underside that is lightly speckled with black markings. The underside of the tail is a bright reddish orange. An orange band around the neck, sometimes faint or absent.
Secretive - usually found under the cover of rocks, wood, bark, boards and other surface debris, but occasionally seen moving on the surface on cloudy days, at dusk, or at night.
When disturbed, coils its tail like a corkscrew, exposing the underside which is usually bright red. It may also smear musk and cloacal contents.
Small snakes and lizards are probably the most important food sources for this subspecies. Worms, slugs, and insects are also taken by this species. The mild venom may help to incapacitate prey, including juvenile California Kingsnakes.
Lays eggs in the summer, sometimes in a communal nest.
This subspecies, Diadophis punctatus regalis - Regal Ring-necked Snake, has been found In California in isolated populations in the Clark, Providence, and Grapevine Mountains. Out of the state it ranges east through Arizona and New Mexico to central Texas, south into Mexico, and north into eastern Nevada, Utah and southeastern Idaho.
The species Diadophis punctatus - Ring-necked Snake, has a very wide range, occuring along the entire east coast of the United States west to the Great Lakes and southwest from there through the Midwest into Arizona, with scattered isolated populations throughout most of the western states including the western half of California, Oregon west of the Cascades, and south central Washington.
Well-adapted to arid conditions, but refers moist habitats, including wet meadows, riparian coridors, stock tanks, rocky hillsides, grassland, coniferous forests, woodlands. In California, inhabits areas at higher elevations in desert mountains.
Many herpetologists no longer recognize the traditional morphologically-based subspecies of Diadophis punctatus, pending a thorough molecular study of the whole species. One ongoing study (Feldman and Spicer, 2006, Mol. Ecol. 15:2201-2222) has found all of the D. punctatus subspecies in California (except D. p. regalis) to be indistinguishable. It is likely that D. punctatus is composed of several distinct lineages that do not follow the geographic ranges of the subspecies.