Discover the 10 Most Colorful Snakes in the World

Written by Volia Nikaci
Updated: July 7, 2022
Share this post on:
Think You Know Snakes?

Key Points

  • Over time, snakes have adapted their coloration to their surrounding environment and needs.
  • Chromatophores in the skin of snakes produces only a few colors that then blend to create vivd colors and patterns.
  • Some of the most vibrantly colored snakes include the San Francisco garter snake, gold-ringed cat snake, blue Malayan coral snake, and the sunbeam snake.

No matter how you feel about snakes, it’s hard to deny their captivating beauty. Considering that there are over 3,900 species of snakes spread throughout the world, it’s no wonder that they come in various sizes, colors, and patterns. Most of us are only familiar with the average garden snakes found in our backyards or the dreaded copperheads and cottonmouths. However, outside of being deadly and dangerous, we can also admire snakes for their beauty.

Snake skin has cells called chromatophores that are limited to producing colors such as brown, black, and red. Iridophore cells produce iridescence, which is reflected by chromatophores in some snakes. How, then, are snakes other colors like purple, yellow, green, blue? Well, the basic colors produced interact or are available in varying quantities or qualities, leading to the various colorations and patterns found in different species.

32,880 People Couldn't Ace This Quiz

Think You Can?

Snakes have developed different, unique colorations and patterns over time as a mechanism to hide from predators, lure in prey, or even scare off any threats. Depending on where they live, what they hunt, the climate, and other factors, snakes adapt to these and appear accordingly.

We’ve narrowed down our list to the ten most colorful snakes globally. Let’s explore what makes each of these animals so beautiful and unique.

10. San Francisco Garter Snake (Thamnophis sirtalis tetrataenia)

san francisco garter snake
San Francisco garter snakes have blue-green spots at the front of their dorsal scales, surrounded by black, red, and blue-green stripes.

reptiles4all/Shutterstock.com

Our list starts with the colorful snake known as the San Francisco garter snake. This snake is a small, multicolored subspecies of the ordinary garter snake. It is distinguished by a remarkable pattern of black, red, and blue-green stripes. After the Endangered Species Act was implemented, this snake was one of the first to be designated as endangered. It is a non-venomous snake that will capture and consume its victims whole. 

San Francisco garter snakes are one of the few creatures that can consume the poisonous California newt. This species’ adult population is estimated to be between 1000 and 2000 snakes, according to researchers. They are really beautiful to look at and appear quite charming due to their many pretty colors. They are just mildly venomous, so they do not pose a serious threat to people.

9. Asian Vine Snake (Ahaetulla prasina)

cutest snakes in the world
Green vine snakes are vivid green, which aids the population in creating effective concealment within trees.

Ferdy Timmerman/Shutterstock.com

Ahaetulla prasina is a snake species native to southern Asia in the Colubridae family. It is also known as the Asian vine snake, Boie’s whip snake, Gunther’s whip snake, and Oriental whip snake. The body of this snake is a striking yellow-green color. It may stretch its body to expose a checkerboard pattern of bright and dark scales when necessary. The Asian vine snake has a thin body that becomes increasingly tapered towards the end. It might be all one color, have a broad yellow stripe down its body, or have darker green and blue streaks on its scales. Its primary colors range from vivid green to teal, which aids in concealment in the wild.

8. Gold-Ringed Cat Snake (Boiga dendrophillia)

The mangrove snake has huge eyes with small, vertical slits, earning it the nickname “yellow-ringed cat snake.”

Fernandha Theory/Shutterstock.com

The Mangrove snake, also known as the gold-ringed cat snake, is a subspecies of the Boiga dendrophila. At first glance, you might think that this snake looks exactly like a bumblebee. Colorful snakes like this one don’t come by often. The colors of this lovely snake will surely catch your eye, as its body is mostly black, but it is ringed with vivid yellow bands. Though not commonly kept in captivity, the gold-ringed cat snake is occasionally housed by expert snake keepers. It’s a poisonous snake, but its venom isn’t potent enough to kill a person. These black and yellow mangrove snakes are found in many sections of South Asian forests. 

7. White-Lipped Island Pit Viper (Trimeresurus insularis)

viper snake
White-lipped pit vipers come in a variety of stunning hues.

Kurit afshen/Shutterstock.com

Trimeresurus albolabris, often known as the white-lipped pit viper or white-lipped tree viper, is a poisonous pit viper indigenous to Southeast Asia. This stunning viper is one of the world’s most attractive snakes. It comes in a variety of stunning hues. Some are turquoise, some are lime green, while others are yellow. White-lipped pit vipers are carnivorous and feed on prey in their immediate vicinity. Their natural habitat is in the woods, where they may be found in trees. They feed on amphibians, insects, and birds.

6. Black-Banded Sea Krait (Laticauda semifasciata)

Black-banded sea kraits have black, vertical bars that stripe an otherwise white body, giving them their common name.

dwi putra stock/Shutterstock.com

It is possible not only to find beautiful and colorful snake species on land but also in the sea. Banded sea kraits are also called yellow-lipped sea kraits because of the yellow upper lip above their black heads and the black stripes adorning their white bodies. These snakes act more like fish, hiding in coral reefs and waiting for prey. However, unlike fish, they breathe air and must surface every few hours to get air. 

5. Blue Malayan Coral Snake (Calliophis bivirgatus)

The blue Malayan coral snake is one of the biggest coral snake species.

reptiles4all/Shutterstock.com

The blue Malayan coral snake is a colorful snake that dwells in Southeast Asia’s rainforests. It lacks bands, unlike its North American counterparts. It has a deep blue body with light blue or white stripes on each side, as well as a stunning coral-red head and tail. But don’t be misled by its beauty. It’s an extremely poisonous snake that has occasionally killed humans. However, its venom functions differently from that of most snakes. It inhibits sodium channels, resulting in near-instant paralysis.

4. Checkered Belly Snake (Siphlophis cervinus)

Checkerbelly or Checker-bellied Snake
The checkerbelly snake is one of the rarest in the world, as seeing them in person is almost impossible.

Dr Morley Read/Shutterstock.com

The checkerbelly snake is a rare species found in Amazonian South America as well as Trinidad and Tobago. Checker-bellied snakes are nocturnal species that are seldom seen during the day unless the conditions are similar to those of the night. Consider yourself extremely lucky if you see one since they are rare and hard to come by. The checker-bellied snake is long and skinny, with a broad head and bulging dark eyes. Its design is a checkerboard combination of orange, black, and brilliant yellow. This snake has a striking, detailed patterning that gives it the appearance of being beaded.

3. Paradise Tree Snake (Chrysopelea paradise)

Animals that fly – flying snake
Flying snakes jump from tree to tree in order to prey and avoid predators.

Kurit afshen/Shutterstock.com

The paradise tree snake, sometimes known as the paradise flying snake, is a kind of snake found in Southeast Asia. The basic color of this snake is black, and it appears to be covered with spherical dots. The color of the dots varies, but they are usually green, yellow, red, or a mix of the three. Outside of its gorgeous coloring, this snake also has a pretty impressive talent! It can flatten its body into a ribbon-like structure and fly into the air. The head stays relatively steady as the body moves. It can fly for 30 feet or more before landing when it begins to glide.

2. Corn Snake (Pantherophis guttatus)

corn snake wrapped around branch of tree
The corn snake is frequently misidentified as the deadly copperhead snake, causing many people to flee or kill it.

iStock.com/bugphai

The corn snake is a kind of rat snake native to North America that uses constriction to subdue its victim. It may be found throughout the southeastern and central United States. Corn snakes have been deliberately bred to produce some very stunning color variations, making them particularly colorful snakes. Fluorescent hues, striped morphs, and even an “opal” kind that is white with streaks of pink or blue are among them. These docile snakes make wonderful pets. In fact, they are the world’s second most popular pet snake, trailing only the well-known ball python.

1. Sunbeam Snake (Xenopeltis unicolor)

10 Most Beautiful Snakes - Sunbeam Snake
Sunbeam snakes have a layer of black pigmentation just beneath the surface of each scale, which adds to the iridescence.

MP cz/Shutterstock.com

Would you believe us if we said you could see a rainbow in a snake? The sunbeam snake has iridescent scales that reflect practically every color in the rainbow. Underneath each scale is a coating of black pigment that enhances the shine. Sunbeam snakes are distinguished by their shiny, smooth, and iridescent scales. These snakes are non-venomous and use constriction to kill their prey. They typically avoid humans, but if they feel threatened, they will rattle the ends of their tails like rattlesnakes.

Summary

Snake SpeciesColoration
Sunbeam snakeIridescent rainbow overlying black
Corn snakePatterns of orange, white, sometimes blue, lavender
Paradise tree snakeBlack with green “dots”
Green belly
Yellow spots on face; yellow mouth
Checkered belly snakeOrange, black, yellow checkerboard pattern dorsal, lateral, ventral
Blue Malayan coral snakeIridescent blue body with light blue lateral stripes
Orange head
Black-Banded sea kaitGrey body with black bands
White-Lipped Island pit viperTurquoise, green, or yellow
Gold-Ringed cat snakeBlack body with yellow bands
Asian Vine snakeLime green body, white belly
Light/dark checkered scales scattered
San Francisco garter snakeLight blue dorsal stripe, black stripes on either side
Orange and black checkered sides
Turquoise lateral band

Discover the "Monster" Snake 5X Bigger than an Anaconda

Every day A-Z Animals sends out some of the most incredible facts in the world from our free newsletter. Want to discover the 10 most beautiful snakes in the world, a "snake island" where you're never more than 3 feet from danger, or a "monster" snake 5X larger than an anaconda? Then sign up right now and you'll start receiving our daily newsletter absolutely free.


colorful snakes
Share this post on:
About the Author

Volia Nikaci is a freelance copywriter and content editor with a passion and expertise in content creation, branding, and marketing. She has a background in Broadcast Journalism & Political Science from CUNY Brooklyn College. When she's not writing she loves traveling, perusing used book stores, and hanging out with her other half.

Thank you for reading! Have some feedback for us? Contact the AZ Animals editorial team.