Adult female ringneck snakes (Diadophis punctatus) collected from a Maryland population during five successive summers laid a total of 50 clutches in which all eggs hatched successfully under laboratory conditions. Mean hatchling mass was not significantly related to female mass or clutch size when each was evaluated in separate analyses, but was significantly related to these factors when they were evaluated in a joint analysis. Mean hatchling masses of 0.6-1 g appear most adaptive; when females are large enough to produce 1-g eggs, the tendency is to produce a larger number of relatively smaller eggs. The relationship of clutch mass to female mass was unaffected by clutch size. Reproductive effort, measured as relative clutch mass (RCM, clutch mass/female mass), increased with age, as indicated by snout-vent length (SVL); also, the relationship of clutch mass to female mass indicated that clutches equaled a larger percentage as female mass increased. Clutch size averaged 3.55 eggs and ranged from 2 to 6. Clutches were laid from 17 June through 21 July (35 d), median 2 July. Clutches hatched during the 20-d interval 8-27 August (median August 18). Larger clutches were laid earlier in the season on average than smaller clutches. Incubation periods for clutches averaged 47 (range 42-51) d. Clutches laid later in the season averaged shorter incubation periods than clutches laid earlier.
Additional publication details
Female reproductive dynamics in a Maryland population of ringneck snakes (Diadophis punctatus)