The Gaelitic Ringneck (Diadophis Norirae) is a species of colubrid snake found throughout Gael and central Argus. These snakes are often quite secretive and illusive, only coming out into the open near dusk and dawn. They are slightly venomous despite their aggressive nature and their small, rear-facing fangs pose little threat to humans who wish to handle them. They are best known for their unique defence posture of curling up their tails, exposing their bright posterior, ventral surface when threatened.
Scientific research is lacking for this species of snake as it is of less concern than it is worth, due to their illusive nature and due to the fact that they pose little threat to humans. They are believed to be fairly abundant throughout most of their range yet no scientific research confirms this.
Description and Identification
Gaelitic ringneck are fairly similar throughout much of their distribution. Its dorsal coloration is solid olive, brown, bluish-tray to smoky black, broken only by a distinct yellow, red or yellow-orange neck band. A few populations in Verdon do not exhibit this neck band. Additionally, individuals may have reduced or partially coloured neck bands that are hard to distinguish - this often means that they can be mistaken for the far more dangerous Eastern Brown Snake, which shares similar habitats in Ainslie to the Ringneck.
Head colouration tends to be blacker than grey or olive. Ventrally, the snakes exhibit a yellow-orange to red coloration broken by crescent-shaped black spots along the margins. Some individuals lack the distinct ventral coloration, but typically retain the black spotting. Rarely, do individuals lack both the ventral and neck band coloration; so the use of those two characteristics is the simplest way to distinguish the species.
Typically, adults measure 25–38 cm (10–15 in) in length. First-year juvenile snakes are typically about 20 cm (8 in) and grow about 2–5 cm (1–2 in) a year depending on the developmental stage or resource availability. Generally speaking, the largest Gaelitic Ringnecks are found in the more fertile areas of Ainslie.
Gaelitic ringnecks have smooth scales with 15–17 scale rows at midbody. Males typically have small tubercles on their scales just anterior to the vent, which are usually absent in females.
Distribution and Habitat
Gaelitic ringneck are quite common throughout much of the Gael continent; extending into North Argus and Central Argus. In particular it is concentrated in Ainslie and Roendavar.
Gaelitic ringneck live in a wide variety of habitats yet areas that are less open and provide desirable places for dens. In Northern Gael, they are found within woodlands or near rocky hillside. In South Gael, they exist in arid scrublands but they live primarily in tropical and temperate forests. Gael ringneck are also not normally found in an elevation above 2,200m (7,200 ft) above sea level. Dens are usually communal and are identifiable by a crevasse or hole deep enough to prevent freezing temperatures. It is often found under wood or scraps due to their tendency to prefer woodland areas. This also makes them more likely to live around house debris, particularly in semi-urban areas near woodlands.
As a result of hot weather in some areas of its habitat, they tend to make holes or hide under rocks. They often are found in flatland forests.
There is no strong hierarchy within the species and status is typically based on size. They are not prone to conflict yet often do not cooperate with one another.
Ringnecks typically use a combination of constriction and envenomation to secure their pray, using a gland behind their eye to supply the venom. It then drains out of an opening at the rear of its teeth. Gaelitic Ringnecks first strike and then constrict to secure their prey. Gaelitic Ringnecks are rarely aggressive to larger predators, suggesting that their venom is more for feeding rather than defence. Rather than trying to bite a predator, the snake winds up its tail into a corkscrew, exposing its brightly coloured belly.
Ringnecks typically come out around dusk and dawn, revealing themselves from the cover they typically travel through throughout the day. These snakes are not often found sunning themselves. Most individuals instead lie under objects which warm up under the sun. Most population don't have colonies larger than 20.
Gaelitic Ringnecks usually mate in spring as the females attract males by secreting pheromones from their skin. The first male to manoeuvre around the female and align their body to the female results in the sperm being inserted into the female's vent. Females will then lay their white eggs with yellow contrasted ends in August or September. Juveniles typically are under parental care for the first few months of their lives
The diet of the Gaelitic ringneck consists of smaller lizards, earthworms and slugs. They may also eat juvenile snakes of other species. Most notably, Ringneck avoid the eggs or young of Eastern Brown Snakes, likely a natural adaption. .
Due to their affinity for wooded habitats, they typically live close to semi-urban areas and rural towns. They pose little risk to humans and as a result are not often forcibly moved by those well acquainted to the areas they live in. However, people less acquainted to the species may mistake these snakes for adult Eastern Browns or juvenile variants of that snake. This results in many false and unnecessary calls for snake killers and removalists, particularly in Ainslie where the often live in the same habitats.
Gaelitic Ringnecks are quite secretive and when they do interact with humans in the wild they are typically stranded and irritated further worsening their chances of being distinguished from the far more venomous snake.
In Aruia, the snake is used by farmers for a more natural form pest control and it is also involved in scientific research as a therapy animal for people who suffer from depressive insomnia due to its affinity for the nightime. In addition to this, some Aruians are trying to tame the snake as a pet. The snake proves to not respond well in domestic captivity and as a result the Government has banned the adoption of them on the grounds of possible animal cruelty.
There have been no known bites from the Gaelitic Ringneck and no application of antivenom. It is generally believed that if necessary, a more broad snake antivenom could be used as at least as a symptom suppressant for the snake's bite.