San Bernardino Ring Necked Snake found in the Street!!!
Location: Mount Washington, Los Angeles, California
April 8, 2014 approximately 7 PM
Yesterday, after a long day and stressful day at work, we decided to finish planting tomatoes, but all the junk mail that was in the mailbox caused us to detour to the recycle bin which was already on the street for collection. We asked the woman who was rooting through the neighbors blue recycle bin to replace all the items she was placing on the curb in her search for the neighbors discarded soda and beer cans. Our recycle bins are never that attractive to trash scavengers since we never drink soda and we like our beer in bottles which are heavier than cans. We headed back to the garden and spied a wriggling snake in the street, which we quickly caught. We were immediately impressed by the brown critters bright orange belly, and the other significant feature was a ring right behind the head. We quickly put the sweet little guy [gal] in a 12 gallon sauerkraut crock, empty of course, so we could grab the camera and call Julian Donahue for an identification, which is much more fun and interactive than doing the internet research.
While on the phone with Julian we multitasked on the computer and we independently established the species, Diadophis punctatus, for the Ring Necked Snake, which is found across North America according to the Savannah River Ecology Laboratory. Julian did mention the subspecies, but we forgot which third name he attached to the species name. We didn’t really have time for writing down what Julian said because we at least knew the species, and since the light was waning, we wanted to try to get some decent photos.
We suspect that the tail curling is some type of defensive action, perhaps a distraction to predators that would be attracted to the bright coloration and make a much less lethal strike at the tail, ignoring the more important head region. After taking a few more photos, we released this colorful guy into the wood pile. The subspecies which ranges in Los Angeles is the San Bernardino Ring Necked Snake, Diadophis punctatus modestus. For more information on the seven California subspecies of Ring Necked Snakes, turn to CaliforniaHerps.com.