What are the Different Types of Yellow Snakes?

Jessica Ellis

Snakes are perpetually mysterious creatures, known for shedding skin and harboring deadly venom. There are many types of snakes that are venomous or harmful to humans. Snakes come in all sizes shapes and colors, including many variations of yellow. Yellow snakes live all over the world, come from many different species, and can be quite beautiful and fascinating.

Venom from a yellow-bellied sea snake can cause kidney failure in its victims.
Venom from a yellow-bellied sea snake can cause kidney failure in its victims.

Although there is a common belief that all yellow snakes are venomous, this is far from true. The Jamaican yellow boa constrictor is a non-venomous snake that can grow to be up to 8 feet (2.43 m) long. While these snakes feed on small rodents and birds, species numbers have greatly declined due to habitat loss and hunting by humans. Once the premier predator of the island, the yellow boa is now listed as vulnerable to extinction by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (IUCN).

Medical attention should be sought in the event of a snake bite, even if the bite is not painful.
Medical attention should be sought in the event of a snake bite, even if the bite is not painful.

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Some yellow snakes fare better in the United States, where the yellow rat snake is generally known as a creature harmless to humans. The distinct yellow-and-black striped snake lives throughout the Southeastern part of the US, and though it may attempt to rattle its tail like a rattlesnake, the creature is not venomous and only uses this behavior to scare predators. Another common US snake, the corn snake, is a visually stunning creature that displays complex color patterns of yellow, orange, red, and black. These yellow snakes are popular pets, known for having retiring natures.

Although these species are all non-venomous, not all types of yellow snakes are safe to be around. The coral snake, which features a striking pattern of alternating red and yellow bands, has a powerful venom second only to the rattlesnake in North America. The yellow-bellied sea snake inhabits tropical waters, and possesses a neurotoxic venom that can cause paralysis, kidney failure, and cardiac arrest.

Although there are many yellow snakes that come by their colors naturally, snake breeders have created some yellow snakes through selective breeding. Some, such as the albino ball python, are vividly patterned with rings and splotches of yellow and white. Designer snake breeding is popular with some snake enthusiasts, though as yet, a purely yellow snake has not been successfully bred.

It is important to remember that most snakes of any color are harmless to humans and generally want to be left alone. Since some are venomous, wildlife experts recommend avoiding contact with any wild snake, even if it appears to be harmless. Even without venom, snakes can deliver a powerful and painful bite, and should not be picked up. Additionally, since many snake species are experiencing population drops due to habitat loss, it is often best to leave wild snakes to themselves. If a person sustains a bite from a snake, even if it is not painful, medical attention is often advised.

Yellow snakes feed on mice.
Yellow snakes feed on mice.

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Discussion Comments


Good point. Read a poll somewhere once that showed Americans were more afraid of snakes than anything else. Something like more than half of the people polled were the most afraid of snakes -- that even beat out the widespread fear of public speaking, if memory serves.

It's no wonder people are inclined to kill snakes when running across them.


It may be important to remember that snakes are mostly harmless to humans, but that is an easy thing to forget when running across one in the woods or out in your front yard. The reason for that is pretty simple -- humans have an almost primal fear of snakes and that manifests in the form of a phobia in a lot of people.

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