North America is home to more than 150 species of snakes. Many of these show different colors and patterns such as one or multiple stripes.
Snakes with stripes are also found in North America either natively or imported from other regions of the world.
Many striped snakes have varying colors and even patterns. Some species come both in a morph with stripes and in a morph with blotches, marks, and or uniform coloring.
Stripes can serve a warning purpose on snakes as they can appear venomous. Some stripes can serve for better camouflage when it comes to the habitat they live in.
Snakes with stripes living in dense vegetation may be more difficult to spot as they tend to blend in better.
One stripe or multiple stripes can be seen on the dorsal of snakes. These have varying widths and they can start at the mouth, at the head, or behind the head continuing to the tip of the tail.
Stripes can be simple, bordered, or interrupted by blotches of colored marks.
Are snakes with stripes venomous?
Snakes with stripes are generally seen as dangerous. While there are many snakes with stripes such as those from the Rattlesnake family, many aren’t venomous.
Fatalities caused by bites of venomous striped snakes are rare as hospitalization manages symptoms to the extent that people are safe from side effects.
Antivenom is given to some of those bitten by venomous snakes with stripes. Others need hospitalization.
Some snakes with stripes prefer to avoid all forms of direct contact with humans by fleeing.
A smaller number of these species are even known for playing dead. Saltmarsh snakes are a species of snakes with stripes that fake their death to make people and other predators move along.
Vivid coloring and stripes might also make some striped snakes appear venomous and poisonous when they aren’t.
Rainbow snakes appear highly poisonous due to their multiple colors but they don’t have dangerous venom.
Striped snakes aren’t aggressive after mating as they tend to give birth to live young and start to move along on their own or lay eggs that aren’t protected by the female.
Types of Snakes with Stripes
1. Garter snakes
Scientific name: genus Thamnophis
Common name: Garter snakes
Garter snakes are the most common species with stripes that run along the body. The stripes are visible on some snakes and slightly visible on others.
Snakes of this genus can be gray, gray-blue, or even brown. They have tan or yellow stripes.
Garter snakes living in the Southeastern United States, including Florida, are known for having a rare gray-blue color and exhibit light dorsal stripes, black, and yellow marks.
Garter snakes prefer moist habitats with plenty of grass. Regardless, Garter snakes are the most common striped snake species in suburban areas.
The snakes prefer areas with vegetation and moisture. As a result, they are commonly found around water sources.
Grassy ditches and grass-surrounded ponds are among the favorites of these striped snakes.
Active both during the day and during the night, these snakes can be seen in higher numbers across Florida and Georgia.
The black morph with light stripes is rare to see during the day as it prefers to hunt at night
2. Dekay’s Brownsnake
Scientific name: Storeria dekayi
Common name: Dekay’s brownsnake, Dekay’s snake, brown snake
Dekay’s Brownsnakes mostly have no stripes. A striped morph of brown color is also seen in this species.
The stripe is located centrally on the dorsal side of the snake. As with Garter snakes, the stripe of Dekay’s Brownsnakes have rows of dark spots on each side.
These snakes are found in vast territories including woodlands, marshes, grasslands, and old farm fields.
Most of these habitats are found in the Eastern part of the United States.
Snakes of the genus are small, as they mostly grow to 12 inches. Most snakes of the genus average a length of 10-12 inches.
They have a limited diet which consists of slugs and earthworms.
One of the biggest problems for this short stripe snake is its reduced size which makes it a target for large predators.
This snake is often eaten by toads and birds as a juvenile.
3. Timber Rattlesnake
Scientific name: Crotalus horridus
Common name: Timber rattlesnake, canebrake rattlesnake, banded rattlesnake
Timber Rattlesnakes come in different morphs. A common morph of the species includes a rusty orange dorsal stripe on the ventral side of the dorsal.
Timber Rattlesnakes are some of the most dangerous and venomous striped snakes. This species can inject a high amount of venom given it has large fangs.
Antivenom is needed in case of a bite.
Timber Rattlesnakes might be highly venomous, but they aren’t known to strike directly. They rattle their tails and become agitated before biting.
You can identify these snakes by the rust-orange mid-dorsal stripe with black marks on each side of the stripe.
The main color of the snake is gray and its head is light orange or rust, similar to the central dorsal stripe.
Given its large size and dangerous neurotoxic venom, the snake can feed on a wide range of mammals. This includes birds and frogs alongside other smaller snakes.
4. Pygmy Rattlesnake
Scientific name: Sistrurus miliarius
Common name: Pygmy rattlesnake, eastern pygmy rattlesnake, ground rattlesnake, leaf rattler, death rattler, North American smaller rattlesnake, oak-leaf rattler, small rattlesnake, southeastern ground rattlesnake, spotted rattler, spotted rattlesnake, southern rattlesnake
Pygmy Rattlesnakes have similar coloring and patterns to Timber Rattlesnakes as both have a rusty-orange dorsal stripe.
The color of the stripe is closer to orange on Pygmy Rattlesnakes, however.
Snakes of the genus have a gray dorsal color. This color may come in dark or light shades, depending on the habitat of the snake.
Growing to a size between 12 and 24 inches, Pygmy Rattlesnakes have a thick body dominated by vivid patterns.
Apart from the central orange stripes, Pygmy Rattlesnakes have black and dark gray spots on each side of the central stripe.
These spots interrupt the central orange stripe, unlike in Garter snakes.
Snakes of this type like to live next to water sources, particularly around ponds and canals.
This is one of the reasons Pygmy Rattlesnakes are highly common in Florida.
Pygmy Rattlesnakes are venomous and should not be handled. However, they aren’t lethal in most cases.
5. Striped Racer
Scientific name: Masticophis lateralis
Common name: Striped racer, California whipsnake
Striped Racers grow to a size of up to 3.9 feet. These long snakes have 2 stripes that run from head to tail
The stripes have a light color while the body is green, brown, or black.
The color of the stripes can be cream or orange.
Highly common in California, the Stripe Racer has a colored body which sometimes helps it remain undetected.
Found in habitats such as grasslands, woodlands, and chaparral, this species can be difficult to spot as its matches its coloring to the color of its environment.
Since the Striped Racer lives in humid areas it prefers its prey that needs high humidity.
Lizards are eaten by the Striped Racer. Small mammals are also consumed by the species together with other snakes of a smaller size.
Scientific name: Crotalus cerastes
Common name: Sidewinder, horned rattlesnake, sidewinder rattlesnake, Mojave Desert sidewinder, sidewinder rattler
Sidewinders are known for having a patterned body. They sometimes have a striped body.
Striped Sidewinders are common in Texas.
They have a pale gray, brown, or cream color.
Its tan morph comes with a dark brown dorsal stripe. Its gray morph also comes with a dark brown stripe.
These colors are similar in their patterned morphs which aren’t known for having a dorsal stripe as well.
Growing up to 33 inches, these snakes get their name not from their stripes but from their moving patterns.
Moving sideways to go forward inspires the name of the species.
Snakes of this genus aren’t seen during the day as they only come out at night. They might be seen in the evening or early in the morning looking for food on hot days.
These snakes have long fangs and a venomous bite which means they should be avoided.
7. Eastern Patch-nosed Snake
Scientific name: Salvadora grahamiae
Common name: Eastern patch-nosed snake
Found in Western US states, the Eastern Patch-nosed snake is one of the species with multiple stripes.
It features 2 light stripes on its dorsal and a central thicker stripe on its back.
In some territories, the colors of the species are completely different.
A lighter color with dark stripes is also seen. This is a gray color with black stripes. The snake also has a gray head with black stripes running around the head to the mouth.
8. Striped Whipsnake
Scientific name: Masticophis taeniatus
Common name: Striped whipsnake
Striped Whipsnakes are some of the snakes with multiple stripes found in the US.
They have a black color or a dark color with olive undertones. The stripes are tan or gray and make for a contrasting look.
These stripes start at the back of the head and not at the mouth as with the Eastern Patch-nosed snake.
Striped Whipsankes are found in varying habitats from flat terrains to mountain peaks. You can see them in tall grass as well as in canyons.
While not venomous, Striped Whipsnakes aren’t afraid to take on other venomous snakes.
They eat venomous rattlesnakes without being impacted by their venom.
Striped Whipsnakes also eat rodents.
Subspecies of this snake also exist. They share the same stripes on the body but their coloring can be different, especially in the case of those with a red underbelly.
9. Coastal Rosy Boa
Scientific name: Lichanura orcutti
Common name: Coastal rosy boa, rosy boa, northern three-lined boa
The Coastal Rosy Boa is one of the snakes that doesn’t come in the color its name implies.
Without a rosy color, the Coastal Rosy Boa is mostly seen in a gray color with orange stripes. These stripes can also be tan or brown.
The coloring of its dorsal stripes always contrasts its body as the snake has a light gray uniform color.
Coastal Rosy Boas are partially present in the US just next to the Mexico border.
It’s found in multiple Southern states and mostly in the Mojave Desert as well as in vast Mexico territories.
Snakes of the genu grow to a size of 44 inches but many don’t measure more than 30 inches as adults.
Coastal Rosy Boas prefer arid terrains and areas with good sun exposure.
While it lives in the desert, the Coastal Rosy Boa is one of the species that prefer to find water sources to live next to. These are normally oases surrounded by vegetation.
10. Saltmarsh Snake
Scientific name: Nerodia clarkii
Common name: Saltmarsh snake
Saltmarsh snakes are known for having diverse morphs. These snakes come in different colors with or without stripes.
Most Saltmarsh snakes have stripes and they come in a dark green, gray, brown, tan, or black color.
The stripes on these morphs are typically light, close to tan, or cream in color.
A juvenile Saltmarsh snake is more difficult to identify as it lacks this color variation and it also lacks stripes.
Juvenile Saltmarsh snakes are black.
Feeding on fish, these snakes are highly common in coastal areas. A high percentage of Florida snakes are Saltmarsh snakes.
These snakes are known for biting, but they do it as a last resort.
Saltmarsh snakes are known for playing dead. They remain motionless until you pass or until a predator moves along thinking they are dead.
11. Lined Snake
Scientific name: Tropidoclonion lineatum
Common name: Lined snake, common snake, dwarf garter snake, grass snake, ribbon snake, streaked snake, striped snake, and swamp snake
Lined snakes are fossorial and small. These snakes never grow longer than 12 inches even if they can sometimes be longer than 8 inches.
Lined snakes are known for their dark bodies with stripes. The main color can be dark gray or brown while stripes that run from head to tail are tan or light brown.
The snake has a narrow head in comparison to the width of its body. This allows it to quickly move below the ground or at the surface under leaf litter.
Common around The Rocky Mountains, these snakes live secretive lives. They might not even be seen unless uncovered from leaves.
Snakes of this genus are known for hiding from the sun in high most areas where they feed on earthworms.
Female lined snakes give birth to live young.
Sometimes resembling earthworms in size, these small snakes aren’t dangerous.
Lined snakes aren’t venomous and they prefer to hide when seeing people.
12. Western Patch-nosed Snake
Scientific name: Salvadora hexalepis
Common name: Western patch-nosed snake
The Western Patch-nosed snake has a light gray color with a tan stripe running down the central dorsal.
It can also have a dark gray color with a light gray stripe.
The color of the dorsal stripe matches the color of the Western Patch-nosed snake’s ventral.
In rare cases, the Western Patch-nosed snake doesn’t have a dorsal stripe but a pattern with dark gray marks on its body.
The Western Patch-nosed snake is one of the most versatile striped snakes in North America.
It has a varying habitat range and varying sizing which makes it highly adaptable.
The snake has a terrestrial nature. Yet, it’s often seen climbing trees and vegetation due to its agility.
It grows to a varying size which can be 10 inches or as much as 46 inches.
Western Patch-nosed snakes can also burrow and hide underground.
It remains a diurnal species with an adaptation for hunting in high heat in the afternoon.
Western Patch-nosed snakes are mostly seen looking for lizards.
13. Florida Brownsnake
Scientific name: Storeria victa
Common name: Florida brownsnake
Florida Brownsakes is a species of small snakes of a brown color. These snakes have stripes but they are some of the most faded stripes in North American species.
The dorsal black stripe of the Florida Brownsnake is mostly faded.
It can appear as a series of connected dots at times while it can also appear as a faded tan stripe with dark spots on each side of other snakes.
Florida Brownsnakes are closely related to Brownsakes in general.
They have stripes and are native to Florida.
These snakes are known to be present in habitats that have covered ground. This includes woodlands with leaves or logs on the ground.
Apart from preferring covered ground, the Florida Brownsanke also needs high moisture.
Snakes of this genus don’t lay eggs as they are vivoparpis.
This means they give birth to live snakes that don’t stay with the mother.
Female Florida Browsnakes give birth to several young snakes.
14. Baird’s Ratsnake
Scientific name: Pantherophis bairdi
Common name: Baird’s ratsnake, Baird’s pilot snake, Baird’s Coluber, Great Bend rat snake
The main color of this snake is gray or salmon. It comes in various shades of gray or salmon which all exhibit stripes.
There are 4 stripes on the dorsal of the species. These 4 stripes run from the neck to the tail. They are dark gray, red, orange, or brown.
The snake is also seen in very rare morphs which include a version dominated by white pigmentation (albino) and a version dominated by black pigmentation.
Common in Southeastern US, the snake is known for eating rodents.
Barird’s Ratsnakes are known for laying eggs instead of giving birth to live young. They lay up to 10 eggs per mating season.
As with many Southern snakes, female Baird’s Ratsnakes don’t care for their juveniles.
Juveniles start looking for food as soon as they are born.
As the name implies, the species is mostly known for eating rats.
They identify rats and their nests by the sense of smell. Snakes of this genus need to use their tongues to allow air to enter their mouths where the smell organ is located.
15. Sonoran Whipsnake
Scientific name: Masticophis bilineatus
Common name: Sonoran whipsnake
Sonoran Whipsnake has 3 faded yellow stripes on each dorsal side.
Found in Southern US, this snake has an olive, gray, or black and gray dominant color. Its underbelly is yellow and similar in color to its bright stripes.
Sonoran Whipsnakes are adaptable when it comes to their preferred habitat. They can live in arid canyons as well as in riparian zones which are areas of vegetation around sources of water.
Sonoran Whipsnakes are mostly known for having a limited hunting window during the day. As they live in some of the warmest parts of the US and Mexico they rarely go out looking for food in the afternoon.
As a result, the best time to find a Sonoran Whipsnakes is early in the morning when it comes out for food.
While not actively hunting for food during the day, the snake might still be seen basking in the sun and sitting on rocks in the afternoon.
Known for a slender figure, these snakes are short and thin. They can be picked up gently without becoming aggressive.
These snakes are known for using an elevated head position to pinpoint possible prey.
Their active season starts early in March and it expands to October
16. Schott’s Whipsnake
Scientific name: Masticophis schotti
Common name: Schott’s whipsnake
Part of the Colubridae snake family, Schott’s Whipsnakes are known for having various morphs with stripes of various colors.
These snakes can be gray or olive green. They have gray or dark gray coloring on their stripes.
Schott’s Whipsankes have a wide stripe on the central dorsal and 2 narrow stripes on each dorsal side.
In some cases, Schott’s Whipsnake with white stripes has black borders which appears as if the snake has multiple stripes.
The underbelly of the species is white.
Schott’s Whipsankes are found on varying terrains in Texas and Mexico. They are adapted to living at different altitudes.
Snakes of this species can live on lowlands as well as on elevations of up to a few thousand feet.
17. Big Bend Patchnose Snake
Scientific name: Salvadora deserticola
Common name: Big bend patchnose snake
Known for having a large scale on the top of the snout, Big Bend Patchnose snakes also come in striped morphs.
The species is known for having a dark main color with contrasting light or vividly colored stripes.
These stripes can be tan, orange, or yellow.
A central dorsal stripe is the widest of these snakes. Lateral stripes of this genus are thinner.
Endemic to Western states, this species is also found in a mostly orange morph. Black and orange scales form an orange-dominated body with dark stripes.
These colors are influenced by their habitat. These influences can come from the color of the soil or the color of rocks and vegetation.
Big Bend Patchnose snakes in Presido County are most likely to exhibit orange colors.
These snakes take on a gray color when living in rocky areas as they are more difficult to spot.
18. Black-striped Snake
Scientific name: Coniophanes imperialis
Common name: Black-striped snake
Black-striped snakes are common in the South as well as in Mexico.
These snakes are secretive as nocturnal species that prefer to hide in remote areas during the day.
Black-striped snakes hide even under cactuses to avoid predation by larger species.
These snakes are short as they grow to a maximum length of 18 inches. Some Black-striped snakes only measure 12 inches.
Identification is based on their dark bodies with stripes.
Most Black-striped snakes are either brown or black. They have dark brown or light brown stripes on the sides of the dorsal.
Rare Black-striped snake morphs come with red stripes.
Snakes of this genus are also known for their burrowing nature which prevents them from being out in direct sunlight for a long period.
They burrow in leaf litter, under logs, or rotting cacti.
These snakes are very selective when it comes to preferred foods. They mostly feed on small frogs and small lizards.
Occasionally, these snakes might also eat juveniles of their species.
19. Rainbow Snake
Scientific name: Farancia erytrogramma
Common name: Rainbow snake, eel moccasin, horn snake, red-lined snake, red-lined horned snake, red-sided snake, sand hog, sand snake, and striped wampum
Rainbow snakes are some of the most colorful striped snakes. As their name implies, they have a multicolored body that resembles rainbows.
While one of the most colorful species that looks poisonous, Rainbow snakes aren’t venomous species.
They have a colored body with a red, white, yellow, and black colored underbelly.
The dorsal side of the species is mostly dark gray to black. It exhibits red and yellow stripes.
Red and yellow dots form a single stripe on the left dorsal and the right dorsal sides of the species.
A faded red stripe runs on the central dorsal side.
Rainbow snakes are some of the most colorful aquatic snakes in the Southeast except in South Florida.
They begin life in seasonal waters to move to permanent water sources.
Commonly seen in aquatic vegetation, these snakes like to live in swamps and similar habitats.
Juveniles are born at the end of the summer and begin migrating towards permanent water sources searching for eel.
20. Desert Rosy Boa
Scientific name: Lichanura trivirgata
Common name: Desert rosy boa
Native to the Southwest and regions of Baja California, the Desert Rosy Boa gets its name from its rosy stripes.
These snakes have a gray dominant color. This background color is constant among multiple morphs.
It’s the color of its 3 stripes that can vary considerably.
From rosy salmon to red, rust, or orange, the colors of its stripes might signal a potentially poisonous bite for its natural predators.
Snakes of this genus have a central dorsal stripe and 2 stripes on the sides.
These stripes might appear continuous or they can even be interrupted.
Snakes of this genus might not be easy to spot despite their high numbers since they prefer to live in remote arid areas.
Even in California, these snakes are mostly seen around granite formations which they use to hide during the day.
Most of the life of this species is marked by finding a suitable hiding spot. It can be a place under a large granite rock formation.
In some areas, there are no rocks and this snake needs to improvise by hiding in the burrows of rodents.