Mr Wood Rat and I have a custom of splitting a beer after work and relaxing for half an hour in some congenial spot. We went to sit near the pool, and he spotted something in the water - "I think it's a snake," he said, walking backwards. He is not known for his love of snakes, while I really enjoy them. I fished out a beautiful and very tired Diadophis punctatus amabilis, Pacific ring-necked snake. He was a bit thicker than a pencil and maybe 15 inches long. Of course before I let him go, I had to get a picture or 10.
Here's some info from the CaliforniaHerps web site...
The name Diadophis punctatus amabilis comes from the following roots:
Diadophis - Latin - diadema - crown and Greek -ophis - snake -- "generally w/a light ring on the occipital region."
punctatus - Latin - dotted - refers to spotted belly of species
amabilis - Latin - lovely
When disturbed, coils its tail like a corkscrew, exposing the underside which is usually bright red. It may also smear musk and cloacal contents [hm, interesting euphemism].
Eats slender salamanders and other small salamanders, tadpoles, small frogs, small snakes, lizards, worms, slugs, and insects. The mild venom may help to incapacitate prey.
8-34 inches long, endemic to California, secretive, enjoys moist habitats [like our pool!?], and lays eggs in summer, sometimes in a communal nest.
I can also add that in the past couple of weeks I've seen four or five squished ones on our local roads, so they are more active right now than usual. Maybe recent hatchlings? I'd like to know more about how fast they grow and how old they can live to be.