Bands may be an evolutionary trait of snakes to signal a potentially-venomous species. Bot venomous and non-venomous snakes can have a banded appearance.
Multiple types of narrow or wide bands can be seen on snakes. These can go all around their bodies or may be interrupted ventrally.
Some snake species have multicolored bands while others mimic venomous banded snakes to be perceived as dangerous. Here are some of the typical snakes with bands found in North America.
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1. Eastern Milksnake
A non-venomous species to humans, Eastern Milksnakes (Lampropeltis triangulum) have a banded appearance.
These snakes have red, black, and white bands that alternate along its body. Some of the rarest types of Eastern Milksnakes have blotches instead of bands.
The banded appearance helps these snakes camouflage themselves in various habitats.
A wide range of prey is accessible to them as a result. They can eat birds, and fish, and even sneak up on other snakes they eat, including other venomous snakes.
2. Banded Watersnake
Banded Watersnakes (Nerodia fasciata) are a constant presence in North America, including in multiple regions of California.
The banded appearance of the species depends on their habitat.
Black, gray, or dark gray body coloring is specific to this species. Dark bands or light bands are seen on the snake in a high-contrast appearance.
Feeding on fish and frogs, Banded Watersnakes are both diurnal and nocturnal.
They may use their banded appearance for camouflage as they patiently wait for prey to pounce on overhanging vegetation above water.
The banded appearance also helps this species become less visible in the dense vegetation on the ground, specifically close to water.
3. California King Snake
One of the banded snakes with a highly variable appearance that also comes with bands is The California King Snake (Lampropeltis californiae).
This is a species that can often be seen in a brown or red-brown color with bright white or gray bands along the body.
Cream or tan bands are also seen on the darker morphs of this species.
In very rare cases, California King Snakes have contrasting dorsal stripes instead of bright banding.
These snakes live all across California with a considerable presence in the state’s mountains.
Activity levels vary in this species, depending on the season and temperature.
4. Texas Coralsnake
Red, black, yellow, or brown bands are seen on Texas Coralsnakes (Micrurus tener).
Its brighter bands are always narrower. This is why the yellow bands on the snake are always narrower.
This is also a species with alternating ban colors, similar to other coralsnakes.
The snake is small to medium-sized, growing to a size of up to 48 inches.
A diverse diet of earth snakes, juvenile snakes, lizards, and even its young is specific to the Texas Coralsnake.
This species is found in Southern Texas, Southern, and Central Arizona, as well as in Florida.
5. Eastern Kingsnake
Grasslands are the typical habitat of The Eastern Kingsnake (Lampropeltis getula). This is a species that also lives along woodlands or on crops.
A banded appearance is specific to The Eastern Kingsnake.
Vegetated areas around water sources are areas where the banded appearance of these snakes helps them blend in.
A black base color with bright white contrasting bands is the color combination specific to this species.
The width of its bands is highly dependent on its areal. Eastern Kingsnakes living further inland typically have narrower bands.
Dorsal blotches that continue down the sides of the body as banding are specific to this species.
A red body with black and white banding is specific to Scarletsnakes (Cemophora coccinea).
A small species that resembles coralsnakes, Scarletsnakes grow to a size of around 20 inches with some of the longest individuals measuring around 26 inches.
Unlike other banded snakes, Scarletsnakes aren’t easily spotted as nocturnal species.
They might only be seen crossing roads at night or resting on warm driveways and or other paved surfaces during the day.
7. Western Milksnake
Active from April to September-Octover, Western Milksankes (Lampropeltis gentilis) is a banded species spotted during the day as a diurnal snake.
A red or brown base color is specific to the snake. It features black and gray or black and white bands from the head to the tip of the tail.
A small species, this active snake can feed on birds and small reptiles.
It can live along woodlands, in grassland, as in different other types of terrains which include rocky terrains.
The species is generally short, with an average length of around 20 to 25 inches. Unlike Scarletsnakes, Western Milksnakes can reach a maximum length of over 50 inches.
8. Eastern Coralsnake
Eastern US distribution is specific to The Eastern Coralsnake (Micrurus fulvius).
This species has red, black, and yellow banding that makes it similar to multiple types of coralsnakes.
Eastern Corlasnakes are believed to have been introduced to North America.
These snakes are venomous and dangerous to humans.
A venomous Eastern Coralsnake bite requires medical attention. Some of the reasons why these bites are rare are because the distribution area of the species placed it further out from inhabited areas.
9. Scarlet Kingsnake
Scarlet Kingsnakes (Lampropeltis elapsoides) are also banded but non-venomous.
Red, white, black, bright yellow, and dark yellow bands are specific to Scarlet Kingsnakes. Its colorful banded body is believed to be an evolutionary mimicry trait of other venomous coralsnakes.
Some coloring variations exist within the species. The nuance of its yellow bands tends to variate the most.
The yellow bands of Scarlet Kingsnakes are also believed to vary with the age and with the distribution area of the species.
Most older Scarlet Kingsnakes tend to have darker yellow bands.
These snakes can be found around pines and pine woodlands.
10. Coast Mountain Kingsnake
A banded body is also specific to The Coast Mountain Kingsnake (Lampropeltis multifasciata).
This species has larger red bands, followed by an alternation of a black band, a white band, and another black band.
Coast Mountain Kingsnakes are also distinguishable by their black heads.
This species is mostly limited in range to California and Baja California. The mountains of California are the main areas of the species.
This is where the snakes eat different types of local lizards and even the small snakes of other species.
11. California Mountain Kingsnake
California Mountain Kingsnakes (Lampropeltis zonata) are one of the multiple types of kingsnakes in California that have a similar appearance.
Red, black, and white banding is also specific to this snake which may grow to a maximum length of over 50 inches.
The snout of the species is black but, unlike in other kingsnakes with a black head, the snout may also be red.
Some variants of this species also come with a brighter red color and areas of its body may appear orange-red as a result.
12. Ground Snake
Full or partial bands are seen on the dorsal and lateral sides of The Ground Snake (Sonora semiannulata).
This species has wide black bands in most of its US regions with the exception of some remote areas of Texas where the black bands are dark gray.
Ground Snakes are some of the shortest types of snakes with bands found in Southern United States territories.
It may reach a length of around 20 inches but it’s not atypical for a grown Ground Snake to also measure around 10 inches.
This snake is a typical presence in loose soils on rocky terrains specific to New Mexico, Texas, Arizona, and California.
13. Mojave Shovelnose Snake
This species of banded snake (Sonora occipitalis) has a native range in Southern and Southeastern California, Southeastern New Mexico, and parts of Nevada.
It comes with black bands, brown bands, and white, yellow, or tan coloring.
The bands of the species are typically darker than its base color. These bands are wider dorsally but they don’t go completely around the body as they are interrupted on the sides.
A nocturnal species that eat insects and spiders, this type of snake may be spotted crossing roads at night.
It avoids too much activity during the day and it waits for nightfall in its desert habitat for lower temperatures and higher prey activity levels.
14. Arizona Mountain Kingsnake
Red and dark red base colors are specific to The Arizona Mountain Kingsnake (Lampropeltis pyromelana). This species of kingsnake has black and white bands and an atypical white and black head.
This species is diurnal and may be spotted around different woodlands, especially those at a higher elevation.
A species often spotted around coniferous woodlands, The Arizona Mountain Kingsnake can be found at altitudes of up to 9.000 feet.
Some of the typical prey it goes for here include lizards and birds.
15. Resplendent Desert Shovel-Nosed Snake
A cream-to-white color is the base color of the Resplendent Desert Shovel-Nose Snake (Sonora annulata).
This is a species with black bands which are sometimes juxtaposed with red and white bands.
Only the black bands may go all around its body. The typical number of bands is 24-25 for this species.
A typical diurnal species, this is a burrowing snake that prefers to only come out for food.
California and areas around San Diego are typical habitats for the species which eat eats insects, centipedes, caterpillars, and spiders.
16. Gray-banded Kingsnake
This species of snake has a gray body with orange bands that feature black borders.
It reaches a maximum length of 4 feet without being a venomous snake. Gray-banded Kingsnakes (Lampropeltis alterna) can be spotted alongside venomous snakes are they are immune to their venomous bites.
Texas and New Mexico mark the common US habitat of the species. It can be found in the Trans-Pecos with specific adaptations to living in a desert climate.
This species lives far from human settlements and bite reports are rare.
It enjoys protected status in New Mexico and no special status in Texas.
17. Sonoran Coralsnake
Sonoran Coralsnakes (Micruroides euryxanthus) are characterized by their numerous bands along their bodies.
This is one of the species where the bands go around the body with fainter colors on its ventral side.
Red and black wide bands encircle the species, followed by narrower bright yellow or white bands.
Found up to moderate elevation, Sonoran Coralsnakes are among the Southern species that live in all types of arid lands.
From desert scrub to grassland and crops, this species can be found in some of the warmest parts of Arizona.
This species shows nocturnal habits in the summer switching to being more active during the day in the fall.
18. Chihuahuan Mountain Kingsnake
This type of Southern state (Lampropeltis knoblochi) is also specific to desert scrub.
It feeds on a wide range of prey including rodents, birds, scorpions, and lizards.
A banded appearance is specific to this species. A base red color is seen on its body. This color may also be red-brown.
White bands with black bordering bands decorate its dorsal and lateral sides while its ventral side is typically white or white and red.
A black-and-white combination is specific to its head.
19. Banded Sand Snake
Found in desert areas and on roads in deserts, this nocturnal species comes with a banded appearance through all of its life stages.
From the juvenile stage, it shows black dorsal banding, a tan to yellow color, and a black and tan head.
The species darkens as it grows to a red-orange base color with black bands and a bright underside.
Banded Sand Snakes (Sonora cincta) are burrowers and may rarely come out during the day. Their secretive nature and remote habitat mean these snakes aren’t spotted easily.
Insects and bugs are among the common food the species is interested in.
20. Northern Cat-eyed Snake
This snake typically comes with brown blotched but a light brown morph with brown bands is also specific to The Northern Cat-eyed Snake (Leptodeira septentrionalis).
A good climber, this snake species lives up on trees and it only becomes active at night.
A slightly venomous species, this type of arboreal snake uses its mild venom against prey such as frogs.
Native to Texas and Mexico, the Northern Cat-eyed Snake has a slender body that may reach a length of up to 3.3 feet.