How to Care for Ringneck Snakes

By Misty Barton

Ring neck snakes are indigenous to North America, ranging from Southern Canada into northern parts of Mexico. They are relatively small snakes that live in wooded areas and prefer heavy cover. Mature snakes reach an average length of 18 inches are rarely get longer than 24 inches. They are black snacks with a narrow ring of cream or yellow just behind the head, and an orange underbelly. These snakes can make interesting pets for snake beginners, and can be caught from the wild when young or purchased at pet stores.

Set up an appropriate enclosure before you get your snake. Use a 5-gallon aquarium tank for immature snakes and a 10-gallon tank for snakes that are reaching their full length. The enclosure must have a wire-mesh lid that clamps closed in several places and slides open on the top. Snakes will escape from a wire-mesh lid that simply sets on top of the cage, like those used with hamsters.

Provide the snake with spaces to crawl inside or under. Caves and hollowed logs can be purchased from the pet store, but any container which the snake can crawl inside and hide will do.

Add bedding to the enclosure. This is the most essential element in the snakes habitat, because the snakes burrow in dead leaf matter in the wild. Mix one part peat moss, one part clean sand, and one part unfertilized potting soil. The bedding in the aquarium should be 3 inches deep and lightly moist.

Mist the bedding at least once every other day with a spray bottle of water. Do it just often enough to keep the bedding consistently moist.

Provide a heater in the tank that creates heat zones. A basking bulb or ceramic emitter is recommended. The tank should have a daytime temperature between 70 and 75 degrees and a nighttime temperature between 65 and 70 degrees. You should provide a daytime basking spot with elevated temperatures between 80 and 85 degrees. Put a thermometer on the side of the tank so that you can monitor the heat.

Feed your ring neck snake. They do not need feed daily. Feed them two to four earthworms a week. Choose two days a week to be feeding days, spaced evenly apart, like Monday and Thursday.

Water your snake in a shallow water dish. A dish with a 2-to-3-inch diameter and a 1-inch water depth works well.