Identification: Ring-necked snakes are small but familiar to many in southern Indiana for their distinctive yellow-ringed neck and bright yellow belly. They are uniformly slate gray to almost black dorsally and, often have an unmarked yellow belly. Some individuals have small black spots down the length of their underbelly. Adult ring-necked snakes grow to around a foot (30 cm) in length, but may grow slightly larger.
Similar Species: This snake is so distinctive that it would be difficult to confuse it for any other species. However, neonate red-bellied snakes have small white spots around the neck that form a ring, of sorts. The two snakes are otherwise very different though, with red-bellied snakes sporting a bright orange-red belly and markedly keeled scales.
Distribution: Ring-necked snakes are predominantly salamander and earthworm predators that are most abundant where such prey is common; namely in moist, shaded forests. These snakes are most commonly encountered in ravines and gorges throughout southern Indiana, under rocks and logs. In such areas, they often find their way into homes and garages. Though they are most prevalent in the southern half of the state, there are scattered populations in central and northern Indiana.