Paul is amazingly gentle when he catches herps. I've never seen anything like it. He'll just stop on the trail when he hears something rustling, look over, and then quietly pounce in one fell swoop with flat hands. It looked like a Tai Chi movement. He also got a rather large alligator lizard this way and showed us the stripes running down the middle of the belly scales and the light colored eyes.
The coolest thing about this snake is its odor. No joke. Right after Paul caught it, his fearless kids, who were downwind, made the funniest eww-gross faces. As I moved in to take a closer look, I thought to myself, "Dang, someone has some really bad body odor." Haha, it was the snake! It smelled exactly like toe jam, or belly button jam. Take your pick. Paul said ring-necked and a couple other snakes release scent from their vents when stressed. Wild. I almost couldn't stop smelling my fingers after releasing this snake, as if it were my own version of the Flehmen response. So weird.
I've commented on Nature of a Man and Dipper Ranch about how their area's ssp., the Pacific ring-necked snake (D. punctatus amabilis), looks tiny compared to what I remember of the dead one I found down at Rocky Creek. I swear the dead one was as thick as my finger, not tiny enough to fit in 2 drinking straws, as Ken cleverly described. But, lookie here, this is indeed very tiny and supposedly the same ssp. as Rocky Creek. It could be a young one? Or maybe I have a tendency to remember things as being larger than they actually were? My recent discovery of the full-on macro, macro, mwahahaha mode may be messing with my sense of size, too, as is evidenced by this snake's pretty iridescence I uploaded to Flickr. The ring-necked snake did not like my small point-and-shoot. Every time I pressed the noiseless button, it would shirk its head away like it could see the blink of the camera eye. Fascinating. I really like holding snakes, but I also worry I could inadvertently harm the wild ones.