In a recent post, I included this photo and made mention of a cool reptile that was on that flat rock and that had captured the attention of the assembled throng. I also said that I'd be back later to highlight the animal, and give it some air time on the vast World Wide Web. So here we go...
Anyway, the three aforementioned snakists spent a fair bit of time flipping objects, and one of them (can't remember who) eventually produced this beauty, which was carefully placed on this rocky runway for a modeling/photography session.
Ring-necked Snakes are common in parts of southern and eastern Ohio, where they inhabit rocky streams such as where this one was found, moist forested slopes, regenerating clearcuts and other such wooded habitats. They're a bit of work to find, though. Occasionally I just stumble into one that is out and about, but apparently ring-necks are primarily nocturnal. Hence the need to go poking under hiding spots in good habitat to find one.
I'm sure that I'm preaching to the choir here, but I want to reinforce that snakes are beneficial and should be protected at all costs, whether relatively "cute" species such as this Ring-necked Snake, or less enchanting behemoths such as Black Rat Snakes. If you don't like them, let them be and they'll do the same. If a snake is somewhere you'd rather it wasn't, such as an Eastern Garter Snake in the garden or an Eastern Milk Snake in the shed, please just relocate it to somewhere else. Or have someone move it for you. I get a disconcerting number of photos sent to me each year from people wanting to know the identification of a snake, often thinking it might be a venomous species. They're invariably harmless species, but what bothers me is how many of the snakes in these photos are dead - slaughtered by the blade of a shovel. The ignorant killing of snakes absolutely disgusts me, and it is almost never, if ever, neccesary to slay them.
If everyone had firsthand exposure to a gentle Ring-necked Snake, and could see up close and personal just how cool snakes are, I'm sure our tubular reptiles would have many more fans.