Yellow is the brightest color in the rainbow, and there are many snakes around the world that sport this beautifully brilliant color. Some snakes are solid yellow, while others have yellow stripes or blotches. Some snakes have small, accented yellow details that contrast sharply against darker colors. The vibrancy of yellow coloring is often associated with dangerous animals, like the banded krait. However, there are also many other dazzling yellow snakes that are nonvenomous and completely harmless to humans, like Australia’s jungle carpet python. Let’s take a closer look at 13 of these charmingly yellow snakes.
13. Yellow Rat Snake
The yellow rat snake has a mustard yellow body with thin brown or black stripes along its length. Occasionally it may also be green or orange instead of yellow. Yellow rat snakes are not very fast, but they can climb trees quite well due to the angled scales on their bellies that help them to grip. These snakes are a subspecies of the eastern rat snake and live in the southeastern United States. When threatened, a yellow rat snake may choose to freeze, play dead, vibrate its tail like a rattlesnake, or stand and fight. Although these snakes are nonvenomous, they can bite repeatedly.
12. Jamaican Yellow Boa
The Jamaican Yellow Boa is a large, nonvenomous snake only found on the island of Jamaica in the Caribbean. This snake is yellow, orange, or red-brown with black markings. Jamaican yellow boas are 6 ½ feet long on average with black spots that become denser along the length of their bodies, eventually forming irregular bands. Unfortunately, the Jamaican Yellow Boa is classified as a vulnerable species and its population is declining rapidly. These are harmless and beneficial snakes that spend much of their lives in trees. European colonization in the 16th century introduced many new predators to the Jamaican yellow boa, such as cats, pigs, and mongooses. In addition, these snakes suffer from habitat loss and human violence.
11. Yellow Corn Snake
Wild Corn Snakes are typically yellow, red, or orange with blotches along their backs. These snakes are found in the southeast and central United States and grow between 24-72 inches in length. Corn snakes are very popular pets, and captive-bred snakes are selectively bred for a plethora of different color morphs. The “Butter” corn snake, for example, is bright yellow in color, with darker yellow or brownish-orange blotches. The “Amber Stripe” corn snake, on the other hand, is a darker golden yellow, with light amber stripes running along the length of its body.
10. Banded Krait
The Banded Krait is the largest species of krait snakes, measuring 6-7 feet in length. This snake has an electric yellow body with distinctive black bands. It has a broad head, and a visible ridge running down the middle of its back. The banded krait is a venomous and deadly snake that lives in Southeast Asia and Southern China. However, this snake is nocturnal and shy, and typically nonaggressive. Banded kraits live in a variety of habitats, from forests to termite mounds, rodent burrows, and sometimes near human villages.
9. Laotian Wolf Snake
The Laotian Wolf Snake is a stunning black snake with lemon-yellow crossbands. Near its head the yellow bands are thicker and far apart, but further down its body the bands become thinner and closer together. This snake grows to 20 inches long at most, and is widespread throughout India, China, Cambodia, West Malaysia, Vietnam, Thailand, and Laos. Laotian wolf snakes are nonvenomous, but they can bite repeatedly if they feel threatened or irritated. These snakes prefer to live in areas with mountains and hills, and hunt small insects, geckos, and frogs.
8. Eastern Hognose Snake
The Eastern Hognose Snake is a thick-bodied snake with an upturned nose for burrowing through loose sand and soil. These snakes come in a wide variety of colors, from gray to black, brown, orange, red, and olive. However, yellow and black patterning is certainly one of the most striking color combinations of the eastern hognose snake. These snakes grow 17-41 inches in length with vivid yellow bodies and irregular brown or black blotches and checkered patterns on their backs.
Eastern hognose snakes are found throughout the eastern and central United States, where they prefer eating toads. However, these snakes are shy and secretive and are not commonly seen. Eastern hognose snakes are mildly venomous, but they are not dangerous to humans. When they feel threatened, these snakes often extend and puff up their necks like a cobra or adder, or even dramatically play dead until the danger has passed.
7. Ring-Neck Snake
The ring-neck snake is a thin black snake with smooth scales and a yellow or orange ring around its neck. Although it may appear plain on top, its belly is brightly colored with red, orange, and yellow ombre patterning. These snakes are found in the United States, Mexico, and Canada, although they are rarely seen. Ring-neck snakes are nocturnal and secretive, typically hiding under cover whenever possible. They are also very small, measuring only 10-18 inches in length. These snakes are constrictors that eat other young snakes, earthworms, salamanders, frogs, and lizards. Depending on where they live, they may focus on hunting only one prey species.
6. Jungle Carpet Python
The jungle carpet python lives in the rainforests of Queensland, Australia, where it enjoys hanging out in the trees. These beautiful snakes are lemon yellow with boldly contrasting jet-black zigzags and irregular banding along the length of their bodies. They typically measure 5-7 feet, although occasionally they do grow longer. Jungle carpet pythons are protected from capture and killing in Australia.
5. Western Shovelnose Snake
The Western shovelnose snake is a smaller nonvenomous snake, measuring 11-17 inches long with smooth scales. These snakes are creamy or light yellow with black saddle-markings or bands along their backs. Their snouts are flat like a shovel, helping them to burrow through loose and sandy soil. Western shovelnose snakes live exclusively in deserts and are found in Mexico, as well as in the southwestern United States in California, Nevada, and Arizona. However, these snakes are rarely seen since they spend the day underground or partially submerged in the soil, and then come out at night to hunt. These snakes eat various types of invertebrates, like insects, scorpions, spiders, and centipedes.
4. Mangrove Snake
The mangrove snake (or yellow-ringed cat snake) is one of the largest species of cat snakes. This snake is typically 6-7 feet long with a very heavy body. Mangrove snakes are black with yellow throats, and thin, electric yellow bands along the length of their sleek bodies. These snakes live in rainforests throughout Southeast Asia where they eat small mammals, reptiles, and birds. Mangrove snakes have a mild venom, but they are known to be very aggressive, nervous, and prone to biting.
3. Ball Python
The ball python is a stocky, nonvenomous snake found in West and Central Africa. This snake’s name comes from its defensive strategy: when threatened, the ball python literally rolls up into a ball, tucking in its head and neck for protection. In the wild, these snakes are dark brown or black, with large, irregular blotches of tan, gold, and light brown. In captivity, ball pythons are popular pets, and there are many selectively bred yellow-color morphs.
For example, the “Banana” ball python is tan with large, banana yellow blotches. The “Bumblebee” ball python, in contrast, is also tan, but with large yellow blotches, white spots, and thin black bands like a bumblebee. Unfortunately, ball pythons are a threatened species, primarily due to poachers who collect them for the exotic pet trade. In addition, ball pythons are used in traditional medicine, injured by pesticide use, and have lost much of their native habitats.
2. Yellow-Bellied Sea Snake
The yellow-bellied sea snake is a vivid and striking snake that lives in tropical waters in the Pacific Ocean and Indian Ocean. The top half of this snake is jet black, while the bottom half is a brilliant bright yellow. The snake’s paddle-shaped tail is a lighter shade of yellow, patterned with black spots and blotches. Yellow-bellied sea snakes typically are 3.5 feet long and live their entire lives in the ocean, where they hunt, sleep, mate, and give birth directly into the water. In order to shed, these snakes coil in on themselves, twisting to loosen their old skin. The yellow-bellied sea snake is extremely venomous and is one of the most widespread snakes in the world. These snakes hunt by resting along the surface of the water and hanging their heads down to capture fish that pass below them.
A new subspecies of this sea snake was discovered in 2017, the yellow sea snake (Hydrophis platurus xanthos). The body of this snake is a solid, golden-honey yellow color, with just a few occasional black spots scattered throughout. The yellow sea snake lives in harsher environmental conditions than the yellow-bellied sea snake, and hunts only at night.
1. Eyelash Pit Viper
The eyelash pit viper is a vibrant and dazzling yellow snake that lives in the forests and jungles of Central and South America. These snakes are commonly yellow in color, although they have many other color variations, from red and pink to green or brown. Eyelash pit vipers are one of the smallest venomous snakes in Central America, measuring between 22-32 inches in length. These snakes have large, triangular-shaped heads and sharp, keeled scales. Their most distinctive feature, however, are the modified scales extending out from above their eyes like large eyelashes. Eyelash pit vipers are venomous snakes that live in trees.
Summary of 13 Yellow Snakes
Here’s a recap of the 13 yellow-colored snakes we took a close look at:
|Eyelash Pit Viper
|Central and South America
|Yellow-Bellied Sea Snake
|Pacific Ocean and Indian Ocean
|West and central Africa
|Western Shovelnose Snake
|Mexico and southwestern United States
|Jungle Carpet Python
|United States, Mexico, and Canada
|Eastern Hognose Snake
|Eastern and central United States
|Laotian Wolf Snake
|India, China, Cambodia, West Malaysia,
Vietnam, Thailand, and Laos
|Southeast Asia and southern China
|Yellow Corn Snake
|Southeast and central United States
|Jamaican Yellow Boa
|Yellow Rat Snake
|Southeastern United States
The photo featured at the top of this post is © Roy H./Shutterstock.com
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