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11 Types of Yellow Snakes (Examples)

Snakes come in a variety of colors and patterns. These differences are evolutionary changes that allow them to blend into their environment and stay hidden from predators and prey. So you’ll most often see brown or black snakes because they blend into the background better. One color that’s actually common among certain types of snakes is yellow. So we’re going to learn about some yellow snakes in the following article.

11 Types of Yellow Snakes

This list takes a look at 11 different types of yellow, or partially yellow snakes. Many of the snakes on this list may just have yellow stripes or have partial yellow coloring. Keep reading to learn where they live, what they eat, and how they behave.

1. Western Shovelnose Snake

Western shovelnose snake 
Western shovelnose snake  | image by Pierre Fidenci via Wikimedia Commons | CC BY-SA 2.5

Scientific name: Chionactis occipitalis 

Western shovelnose snakes are elusive desert inhabitants of the American Southwest and Baja California. Their scales are light yellow and black in the form of alternating stripes.

It grows to a maximum size of only 17 inches long. Its small size helps it hide under rocks and sand in the harsh environments of the southwest. It uses its shovel-shaped head to nudge gravel around and find insects and centipedes.

2. Scarlet Kingsnake

Scarlet kingsnake
Scarlet kingsnake | source: Land Between the Lakes KY/TN

Scientific name: Lampropeltis elapsoides 

They may not be all-yellow, but the yellow, black, and red stripes on this snake are important to remember. Scarlet kingsnakes are not venomous, but they mimic the extremely venomous coral snake. This form of mimicry works by keeping potential predators away.

Scarlet kingsnakes’ habitat range is the Eastern United States, but they’re difficult to spot. This is because they are shy and nocturnal, so it’s improbable to see one during the day. They average about 18 inches long once they’re mature.

3. Colorado Desert Shovel-nosed Snake

Colorado desert shovel-nosed snake
Colorado desert shovel-nosed snake | image by Greg Schechter via Flickr | CC BY 2.0

Scientific name: Chionactis annulata

Colorado desert shovel-nosed snakes are not venomous, but they’re still pretty intimidating. Bands of black and yellow alternate down its body, which averages about 15 inches long.

Most live in the Colorado Desert. It uses its upturned nasal scales as a shovel to move sediment and dirt around while searching for prey.

They have very ‘aerodynamic’ faces. Their noses are flat and their eyes lay flush with their skull. The head has very little definition from the rest of the body.

4. Mojave Shovel-nosed Snake

Scientific name: Chionactis occipitalis occipitalis

Mojave shovel-nosed snakes resemble their cousin, the Colorado Desert shovel-nosed snake, but with a few differences. First, the Mojave snake’s bands are dark brown or reddish-brown. Second, it is a buttery-yellow color.

It finds prey by ‘swimming’ through sand, using its shovel-like nose to nudge sand out of the way. Insects, scorpions, and spiders are on the menu.

This small snake grows to a maximum of 15 inches long. It lives in Arizona, California, and Nevada.

5. Eastern Coral Snake

Eastern coral snake
Eastern coral snake | image: John | Flickr | CC 2.0

Scientific name: Micrurus fulvius

If you remember any of the yellow snakes on this list, make sure it’s the eastern coral snake. This snake is one of the most venomous snakes in the world.

Just 4mg of venom is enough to kill an adult human. However, eastern coral snakes are shy and reluctant to bite.

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The eastern coral snake lives in the southeastern United States. Its range is along the coasts, from southern North Carolina to Florida to eastern Louisiana. Wild coral snakes’ diet consists of fish, insects, and amphibians.

6. Eastern Garter Snake

Eastern garter snake
Eastern garter snake | image by Peter Paplanus via Flickr | CC BY-SA 2.0

Scientific name: Thamnophis sirtalis sirtalis

The Eastern garter snakes are a mixture of yellow, brown, and black. However, they have 3 pronounced yellow stripes that extend from head to tail. It’s a helpful identification tool for this snake, which frequently gets confused with other snakes in the eastern United States.

This species of garter snake eats mostly cold-blooded creatures. Fish, frogs, and salamanders are on the menu. They grow up to 4 feet long but retain their slender appearance. Larger snakes eat mice and birds.

7. Banded Sand Snake

Banded sand snake on wet ground
Banded sand snake on wet ground | image by chargonzal via iNaturalist

Scientific name: Chilomeniscus cinctus 

Banded sand snakes have black and yellow stripes along the length of their bodies. There’s very little definition between the head and body – it’s all a streamlined package. On some Banded sand snakes, the yellow scales along the spine are intense yellow-orange.

It reaches a maximum of 10 inches long, making it one of the smallest snakes in the Southwestern United States. It’s most active at night when it hunts for insects.

8. Southeastern Crown Snake

Southeastern crown snake 
Southeastern crown snake  | image by John Sullivan via Wikimedia Commons | CC BY-SA 3.0

Scientific name: Tantilla coronata

Southeastern crown snakes are yellowish or light brown. Their heads are black with a white collar. They are very tiny, so keep an eye out if you think you might be able to spot one.

They blend in well with the forest floor as well as tree bark. Most southeastern crown snakes are just 9 inches long.

Because of their small size, they eat insects. Centipedes are one of their favorites.

Look for them in the Southeast. They live along the Atlantic coast and as far west as Kentucky and Louisiana. The sandier the soil, the better.

9. Sonoran Shovelnose Snake

Scientific name: Chionactis palarostris

It’s rare to spot a Sonoran Shovelnose snake! They live in just one area of the United States: the Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument. This preserved area of south-central Arizona is the northernmost tip of the snake’s range, which extends into Mexico along the Baja California coast.

Sonoran shovelnoses eat small insects, spiders, and scorpions. Not much is known about their courtship behavior, but they do lay eggs. They prefer to live in rockier places than their relative, the western shovelnose.

10. Ridge-nosed Rattlesnake

Ridge-nosed rattlesnake resting
Ridge-nosed rattlesnake resting | image by Robert Bryson via Wikimedia Commons | CC BY 4.0

Scientific name: Crotalus willardi

The Ridge-nosed rattlesnakes are venomous pit vipers that live in the southwestern United States. These yellow-brown snakes blend in well with their chosen environments: sand, rocks, and scrub. Spot them in the daytime when they bask on warm rocks in direct sunlight.

Lizards, birds, and mammals are all on the menu. It reaches 18 inches long. To ward off predators, the Ridge-nosed rattlesnake shakes its tail rattle as a warning.

11. Chihuahuan Blackhead snake

Chihuahuan blackhead snake
Chihuahuan blackhead snake | image by lgmatah via iNaturalist | CC BY 4.0

Scientific name: Tantilla wilcoxi

The Chihuahuan blackhead snakes are mostly yellow, but they have a white collar bordered by black scales, and a black head. This sets them apart from other snakes of the Chihuahuan Desert.

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They live in the sandy deserts and mountains of the southwestern United States. Some of their habitats are high in the mountains and others are low in deserts near sea-level. Its diet consists of small arthropods, insects, and millipedes.

Anna Lad

About Anna Lad

Anna is a wildlife biologist who graduated from Texas A&M in 2020. She enjoys studying and learning about wild birds and wildlife of all types.