If you can’t wait to have a reptile friend around your wrist, then a ringneck snake is probably not your best option. They are harmless to humans and incredibly cute, but being affectionate is not their best attribute.
Owning a ringneck snake as a pet means you may not even get to admire its lovely appearance that frequently because they are very good at hiding and seek. Meaning you’ll always be seeking, and they will always be hiding.
Why are they so popular?
What makes them so enticing as a pet is their miniature form. They only grow to be between ten and fifteen inches, and they have colorful bellies of red, orange, or yellow. The tell-tale ring around their neck almost resembles a collar, which is a bit ironic.
Ring snakes have tiny fangs in the back of their mouths, which contain mild venom for eating purposes. While a ring snake can bite you, it’s not something to expect. You may not even feel it if it were to occur.
Ringneck snakes are timid and delicate. Think of them as having very high social anxiety, which means being handled causes them a lot of stress! Escaping will always be their priority when you hold them.
While it’s not unheard of to have them as pets, breeding them in captivity is difficult. And taking them from the wild is not a good idea.
The habitat of a ring snake
Did you know that ringneck snakes have the largest geographic range in North America? They live throughout certain parts of the United States, Canada, and Mexico.
Their favorite areas offer lots of ground cover for burrowing. Although they are versatile, ring snakes thrive in wooded areas with moist soil. Being close to riverbeds and ponds are also popular spots.
It’s common for ring snakes to live in dens with up to one hundred other ringneck snakes. If you happen to come across one, that means they have family nearby. Just because they don’t want to snuggle with you doesn’t mean they don’t like each other.
Usually, to see a ring snake during the days means you must search under rocks, tree bark, or any other covering that would appeal to a small snake. Nighttime is their preferred time to roam, but they pop out for a daytime stroll now and then.
Adapting most creatures that live in the wild to captivity is difficult, but it’s especially tricky for ringneck snakes. It rarely ends well for the snake, which could lead to heartbreak for both snake and human. In fact, in some areas, keeping a wild snake in captivity is flat out illegal.
Diet of a ring snake
As you might have guessed, this snake’s tiny size means that it doesn’t hunt rodents. They would have a hard time swallowing a mouse, even with a snake’s impressive digestion abilities.
This is good news for the faint of heart. Buying live mice for dinner is not in your future if you own a ringneck snake. Ringneck snakes prefer to eat earthworms, slugs, and other small amphibians such as frogs and salamanders. Sometimes even lizards or other small snake breeds.
As a pet, insects alone are acceptable as a food source. In fact, keeping grubs, pillbugs, and earthworms in your terrarium at all times will maintain the soil and provide a constant food source for your snake.
Since ring snakes can have cannibalistic tendencies with other small snake breeds, it’s best to keep that information in mind if you were hoping to provide your pet with a roommate. That would not be an enjoyable discovery!
A ring snake as a pet
Are ring snakes good pets? That’s the main question.
Of course, this depends on what type of pet best suits your lifestyle and personality. But for an amateur snake owner, the answer is probably no, especially if you were hoping for a social snake or even just being able to look at it that often.
While it is possible to acclimate ring snakes to being held more often, it will take some serious dedication. Plus, you still risk causing them stress.
Because of their elusive nature and daytime sleeping preferences, visually enjoying their company won’t be a frequent occurrence. Most pet owners enjoy seeing their pets from time to time, so keep that in mind when you’re considering adopting a ring snake.
If you’re set on caring for this cute but elusive reptile, always find a reputable breeder instead of catching one in the wild.
Tips for keeping your ring snake happy
To provide an ideal home for your ring snake, you will need a sizeable terrarium. I know some articles say a shoebox with some soil will suffice, but would you want to live in that?
Remember, a happy snake is a healthy snake!
Essentially, you will want to create a mini indoor forest for your slithery friend. Aim for a home that can hold fifteen gallons. Lots of moist soil and areas for hiding are a must, but add some plants and vines for climbing options. Mist your snake’s environment regularly to avoid dehydration.
Avoid placing heavy items inside your snake’s home because they will burrow under anything they can. If the object is too heavy, they could be squished or injured. Light-weight water bowls and basking surfaces are key.
Certain colors of heat lamps may convince your ring snake to emerge more often during the day. White lamps look similar to daylight so try one in red, blue, or purple. No snake can resist a good sunbathing.