Dorsal scales carinated: a lunulate yellow spot on each side of the nape, with a black one behind.
N. torquata, Ray, Syn. Quad. p. 334. Flem. Brit. An. p. 156. Coluber Natrix, Linn. Syst. Nat. torn. i. p. 380. Turt. Brit. Faun. p. 81. Ringed Snake, Penn. Brit. Zool. vol. iii. p. 33. pi. 4. no. 13. Shaw, Gen. Zool. vol. iii. p. 446. Couleuvre a collier, Cuv. Reg. An. torn. ii. p. 83.
Length from three to four feet; sometimes more. Obs. The female is always much larger than the male.
(Form). Head depressed, and broader than the neck; body slender, elongated, thickest in the middle, gradually tapering posteriorly; tail about one-fifth of the entire length, rather sharp-pointed at the extremity: gape the length of the head, arched, ascending upwards behind: teeth very small, serrated, arranged in two rows on each side of the jaws: upper part of the head protected by large squamous plates; the frontal and fronto-parietal plates of considerable size; seven plates on each side of the upper jaw: dorsal scales imbricated, oval, with an elevated keel down the middle; becoming broader and larger at the sides, with the keel obsolete: plates of the belly broad, transverse, oblong, in number about one hundred and seventy; subcaudal plates arranged in pairs, from sixty to sixty-five on each side. (Colours). Upper parts cinereous brown, tinged with green: at the back of the head a double lunulate spot, of a bright yellow colour, behind which is a double one of black, larger and more triangular: two rows of small black spots disposed longitudinally down the middle of the back, besides which are some larger ones on the sides, uniting to form short transverse undulating bars: throat, and beneath the neck, yellowish white; abdomen, and under surface of the tail, dusky blue, mottled in some places with yellowish white; edges of the abdomen with a series of yellowish white spots.
A common species; met with in woods and hedges, as well as in marshes. Is particularly abundant in the fens of Cambridgeshire, where it sometimes attains a large size. Often takes to the water, especially when alarmed; and swims easily: will occasionally remain at the bottom for a considerable time. Feeds on frogs, mice, insects, etc. Is oviparous. Eggs from sixteen to twenty in number, often deposited on dunghills, or under hedges. Hybernates during Winter: reappears in March, or early in April. When irritated, voids a fcetid substance.
Brit. An. p. 156. Coluber Dumfrisiensis, Sow. Brit. Misc. p. 5. pl. 3. Loud. Mag. of Nat. Hist. vol. ii. p. 458. (Copied).
An obscure species, of which little is known. Said to be particularly characterized by having "the scales of the back extremely simple, not carinated: plates on the belly one hundred and sixty-two: scales under the tail about eighty. Of a pale brown colour, with pairs of reddish brown stripes from side to side, over the back, somewhat zigzag; with intervening spots on the sides." Sow. Only one specimen known, which was discovered by T. W. Simmons, near Dumfries. According to Sowerby's figure, which is said to be of the natural size, its length does not exceed three or four inches. Probably an immature variety of the common species.