Some of the most contrasting snakes in the world have red bellies. These types of snakes live across North America, Asia, and Australia.
The red coloring of their bellies can have numerous purposes or it can be an evolutionary adaptation without a specific purpose. Some of the reasons why snakes have red bellies include.
To deter predators – snakes such as Ring-necked Snakes can show their red bellies to predators when rolling over to steer them away with vivid coloring which may be associated with a venomous snake.
As an evolutionary trait – other snakes with red bellies such as the various fossorial North American species have few predators as they live underground. They still have red bellies.
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Are Snakes With Red Bellies Venomous?
Most red-bellied snakes in North America are not venomous. They might have a small amount of venom, but this venom doesn’t kill people.
Mildly venomous snakes can use their venom to overpower small prey.
Still, most snakes with red bellies even prefer to flee when seeing humans. Since they live in woodlands in water or underground, they might also not cross paths with humans too often.
The Red-bellied Snake is one of the most likely species to be encountered in suburban areas in North America. This is a non-venomous species that may move around woodlands and municipalities close to woodlands.
10 Snakes with Red Bellies
The following snakes with red bellies can sometimes be spotted out in nature.
1. Red-bellied Snake
The Red-bellied Snake (Storeria occipitomaculata) is named after its red belly. In rare cases, this black snake may also feature a pink ventral color.
Some color variation is also specific to their dorsal sides. They can be light brown, dark brown, or gray.
Native to North America, this species can be found throughout the continent.
Most Red-bellied snakes are found in high numbers in the Eastern states.
They inhabit areas such as wetlands but they can also be found at higher elevations in areas with high humidity and plenty of vegetation.
These snakes are rather small as even the largest Red-bellied Snakes grow to a maximum length of 10 inches.
Abundant in many areas, they are only endangered in their Southern limit habitats such as those across Georgia.
Woodlands across the Eastern US states are the most common habitat where this snake may be spotted, but it prefers to flee when seeing humans.
Red bellies and dark dorsal coloring are also specific to Mudsnakes (Farancia abacura), a North American species.
While ventrally red, Mudsnakes aren’t venomous. A type of colubrid, they don’t even follow humans according to common myths.
Spotting a Mudsnake is not easy as they hide during the day. A nocturnal snake, Mudsnakes only come out for food at night, around water.
They live in swamps and hide either in vegetation or under large objects such as rocks when not out looking for food.
These snakes spend a good amount of time hiding in water but they can also move around the immediate vicinity of water for food. Mudsnakes are found around all types of water sources, including brackish water.
3. Black Swampsnake
A red belly and a black glossy dorsal color are specific to The Black Swampsnake (Liodytes pygaea).
The species spends almost all of its life in water or flooded areas away from easy contact with humans.
It can be found in the Southeastern United States, including in Florida where 3 subspecies are identified.
Most of its life is spent looking for food such as small fish and tadpoles.
Black Swampsnakes are among the shortest types of snakes in the Southeast, often growing to a length of just over 10 inches.
The breeding season of Black Swampsnakes is very long, given the warm habitats it lives in.
This breeding season can last up until October in states such as Florida. Female Black Swampsnakes give birth to several up to 15 live young in the summer, up until October.
4. Kirtland’s Snake
Kirtland’s Snake (Clonophis kirtlandii) is found in North America in states such as Ohio and to a lesser even endangered extent in nearby states such as Michigan.
This specie has red ventral coloring and dark dorsal colors such as black and brown. Its black dorsal spots tend to stand out the most.
Kirtland’s Snake is a small species, often growing to a size of just 18 inches.
A nonvenomous snake, this species eat soft-bodied prey such as slugs and earthworms, but also larger prey such as toads.
Living around marshes, Kirtland’s Snakes prefer to hide away and make a quick escape when spotting humans.
5. Ring-necked Snake
Ring-necked Snakes (Diadophis punctatus) are among the species with the brightest red ventral coloring.
This is a species with a gray and red color combination native to North America.
Small by comparison to most other snakes on the continent, Ring-necked Snakes use their bright red bellies to scare away predators.
They can play dead, showing their red bellies to signal potential predators of possible danger.
Variations of their red bellies include different yellow nuances.
Ring-necked Snakes are nocturnal, coming out at night for food such as earthworms.
6. Plain-bellied Watersnake
Many Plain-bellied Watersnakes (Nerodia erythrogaster) have bright yellow bellies. A smaller number of these snakes have red bellies.
Its dorsal color is also variable but dark. It tends to vary from shades of gray to shades of olive.
This is a species found both in and around water. A terrestrial and aquatic species, The Plain-bellied Watersnake feeds on crustaceans, fish, and other terrestrial prey such as salamanders.
These snakes eat salamanders by swallowing them directly as they don’t use chewing or constriction.
Wetlands are the North American habitats where these snakes live.
A long mating season is specific to Plain-bellied Watersnakes. The female of the species gives birth to a high number of live young.
Up to 18 juveniles can be born in August or September from a single female Plain-bellied Watersnake.
7. Coast Garter Snake
Coast Garter Snakes (Thamnophis elegans terrestris) can have a red belly. These snakes also come in red and green, yellow, and other color combinations ventrally.
Red coloring may also be seen dorsally on the species, in the form of lateral stripes.
Most commonly, Coast Garter Snakes have yellow lateral stripes.
A species that eat slugs and snails, Coast Garter Snakes are diurnal terrestrial snakes, unlike many other types of garter snakes.
This species may not live in water but it typically lives in dry land close to water.
8. Eastern Worm Snake
A common fossorial snake in North America, Eastern Worm Snakes (Carphophis amoenus) also have red bellies. Their red color isn’t dark but rather faded, specific to fossorial species.
Eastern Worm Snakes are among the small species of Eastern North America. They may grow to a length of up to 11 inches.
A widespread Eastern distribution is specific to this snake, down to Georgia.
As a burrowing species, the snake is less likely to be spotted by humans.
These snakes mate early in the spring and lay eggs in the summer. Males and females can be spotted in April and June.
Eggs are laid by the female at the beginning of the summer. A typical Eastern Worm Snake egg measures around 0.3 inches.
9. Western Worm Snake
A faded red belly is also specific to The Western Worm Snake (Carphophis vermis), similar to The Eastern Worm snake.
This snake is highly similar to its Eastern counterpart, apart from its range. It can be found in states such as Nebraska, spending much of its life hiding underground.
Most Western Worm Snakes have a short body, measuring anywhere between 9 and 11 inches, with the possibility of reaching 12-13 inches on very rare occasions.
They are marked by a contrasting red and black or red and gray body.
Red bellies are used by snakes to defend themselves above the ground, together with the capacity to release a foul smell.
These snakes may be spotted soon after it rains, an ideal time for them to move around for earthworms.
10. Oregon Aquatic Garter Snake
Found in California and Oregon, the Oregon Aquatic Garter Snake (Thamnophis atratus hydrophilus) often comes in red belly coloring.
This species is known to have very high color variation. Its dorsal side can be brown or gray as well.
Stripes may or may not be seen dorsally. Oregon Aquatic Garter Snakes have a mid-dorsal and lateral stripe or they are stripe-less.
These stripes vary in color from yellow to pale yellow. The same color variation is also specific to the red of its belly, which can sometimes be darker and other times closer to pink.
Specific belly coloring differences are also seen on this snake. The belly part closer to its head is whiter while only the second half of its belly towards its tail is red.
A non-venomous snake, Oregon Aquatic Garter Snakes cannot inflict a venomous bite on humans.
Still, these snakes are resistant to the poison specific to some of their Southwestern US prey such as salamanders.