The ringneck or ring-necked snake is a harmless, nocturnal species of snake with a unique and bright color pattern that gives them the appearance of a neck band or ‘ring’ as their name suggests. Ringneck snakes can be found across large parts of the United States, central Mexico as well as Canada’s south-eastern region, and they love to live in areas of moist soil near river banks and streams, as well as damp areas of woodland and forests.
So what do baby ringneck snakes look like? Baby ringneck snakes are very small and slender (around only 8 inches long at birth) and though their color patterns can differ slightly across the subspecies, they are typically recognized as having a slate grey body on their dorsal side with a yellowy orange under belly, and this is usually complemented with a matching yellow or orange neckband or ring. Some baby ringnecks may also have a brown, smoky blue or black body with a bright red or solid yellow belly and neck ring, depending on the subspecies.
The beautifully contrasting colors on the bodies of baby ringnecks are used to great advantage in the wild whenever they feel threatened or they wish to stun their prey, since they are known for showing off their bright red, orange and yellow colors to potential predators with a quick curl of their tails to reveal the loud color display beneath. If you’re interested in learning more about the coloring of baby ringneck snakes and how to care for one, check out our brief guide to this wonderful species below.
Things to Look for in Identifying a Baby Ringneck Snake
Ringneck snakes can have color variations of red, yellow and orange under bellies with a darker color on their dorsal side, but the common color combination to look out for when identifying a baby ringneck is a dark slate grey body with a belly that is typically yellowish orange with a similar yellow-orange ring around the neck.
Baby ringnecks are very slim and have flattened heads that are almost the same width as their body – in fact as babies, ringneck snakes are usually no wider than the width of a pencil!
As hatchlings, baby ringneck snakes will display a hint of the pattern they will grow to develop, but the body will appear a uniform black or dark blue color and the belly and neck ring will usually be white in color before the bright, vibrant color pattern has had a chance to fully develop.
Baby Ringneck Snake Coloring
As above mentioned, there are a few variations to the coloring of a baby ringneck snake. Here are some of the color combinations you can expect to find in baby ringneck snakes.
- Solid brown dorsal (body) with a pale yellow or cream belly and neck band
- Olive dorsal with a bright yellow belly and neck band
- Dark slate grey dorsal with a pale orange or yellow belly and neck band
- Smoky black dorsal with a bright orange or red belly and neck band
- Blueish-grey dorsal with a deep orange or red belly and neck band
Subspecies of ringneck snakes are known to have extra color variations and patterns such as several black spots along the center of their belly that may appear like small diamonds or ‘half-moon’ shapes.
How Much Do Baby Ringneck Snakes Cost?
On their own, baby ringneck snakes can cost around $25, but this can depend largely on the store or snake dealer you purchase them from.
Most ringneck snakes sold as pets come from the wild, since they are difficult to breed in captivity, so prices may vary according to individual owners. Once you also factor in their terrarium, food and bedding needs etc, the overall upfront cost of keeping a baby ringneck snake may set you back around $300 – and the cost to feed them each month can cost around roughly $50.
What Size Tank Does a Ringneck Milk Snake Need?
Because ringneck snakes only grow as long as 10 to 15 inches at adult size, you will thankfully not need a large tank to house them like you often need to with other snake species. A terrarium only a little larger than a shoebox will be perfect for a ringneck snake, so look for a 10 gallon cage or tank with a mesh top to prevent them from escaping.
Do Baby Ringneck Snakes Bite?
Baby ringneck snakes tend not to bite, and even if they were to attempt to bite us, they would not be able to open their mouths wide enough or do any real damage to human flesh with their teeny fangs. And luckily if they do manage to inflict a bite, the venom is so mild that it would feel like a bee sting. Baby ringnecks only really bite as part of their mating, as male ringnecks will bite a female on her neck ring during intercourse.
What Do Baby Ringneck Snakes Eat?
The good news for snake owners who may be a little squeamish at the idea of feeding their pet snake mice and other rodents is that the teensy baby ringneck snake lives off significantly smaller and more readily available food such as insects and small reptiles. The typical diet of a baby ringneck snake can consist of:
- Small frog and toad species
- Small salamanders (commonly the red-backed varieties)
- Salamander eggs
- Small lizards (such as newts and geckos)
- Other juvenile snake species
How Long Can Baby Ringneck Snakes Go without Eating?
While an adult ringneck snake may be able to go without food for as long as 2 to 3 months, baby ringneck snakes may not survive longer than a week without eating. Since they generally prefer to eat every 3 to 4 days, going a week without food will cause a baby ringneck to display serious health issues and complications that will affect their development.
How Often Does a Baby Ringneck Snake Eat?
As babies, ringneck snakes tend to eat every 3 to 4 days, so most breeders and handlers would recommend feeding them between 2 to 4 times a week. As well as feeding them frequently and consistently, you should also be sure to give them a constant drink supply too! Keep a shallow dish of fresh water in their enclosure at all times, but ensure that it is not heavy enough to crush the snake if overturned.
Baby ringneck snakes love a moist habitat in which to live, so replicate this further by lightly misting their cage each day too.
As above mentioned, ringneck snakes can gradually go a little longer between feeds as they reach their adult size (at around 3 years and above). Around this time, it may only be necessary to feed them every 1 to 2 weeks at a time.
At What Age are Baby Ringneck Snakes Full Grown?
Both the male and female baby or juvenile ringneck snakes will reach full sexual maturity at around 3 years old. At this age they can be considered adults and will range between 10 and 15 inches in length. Both the male and female will typically weigh around 1.32 grams at this age too.
In the wild, ringnecks can go on to live to 10 years and have even been known to live as long as 20 years old. In captivity however, the average lifespan of a ringneck snake is around 6 years.
What Does Baby Ringneck snake Poop Look Like?
The poop of a baby ringneck snake – like most snakes – has a similar appearance to bird droppings, in the sense that their excrement is a wet, soft liquid rather than solid and has a mostly white color to it. Because of their varied diet, a ringneck snake will have traces of bone, nails and teeth in their poop. When baby ringneck snakes feel cornered or are caught, they often release a mix of their liquid feces and uric acid on their attacker.