Many snake species have bright bellies. Snakes with yellow bellies are found around the world, including in North America.
These snakes come in different dorsal colors and sizes. Many are abundant in their distribution areas often being spotted by humans.
Some snakes with yellow bellies even live in proximity to humans, particularly those in swamps or on farms.
Some snakes grow into an adult with yellow bellies as they can have completely different coloring than juveniles. Other species show the same coloring from their early days throughout the years.
Often taking the colors that favor them in their natural habitats, snakes can have bright yellow bellies and dark yellow bellies.
Several species can also have lateral or dorsal stripes in the same color as the belly.
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Are Snakes with Yellow Bellies Venomous?
Most snakes with yellow bellies aren’t venomous. These are snakes found across North America, representing both aquatic and terrestrial species.
Plain yellow coloring or yellow with dark stripes or bands is specific to the ventral side of these snakes. None of these snakes is truly harmful to humans but they can bite, sometimes painfully.
Sometimes even considered venomous, these snakes can be killed or eliminated from their natural habitat.
17 Snakes with Yellow Bellies
Here are the most common snakes with yellow bellies found around North America with their characteristics such as size, habitat, and coloring.
1. Common Garter Snake
Yellow is an important color on Common Garter Snakes (Thamnophis sirtalis). These types of diurnal snakes have yellow dorsal stripes as well as yellow ventral coloring.
The yellow nuance of their bellies can also be brighter than the yellow nuance of their dorsal stripes.
High color variation is also specific to the dorsal side of the species which can be gray, green, or olive.
Some of the rarest types of Common Garter snakes include the red and black morphs.
Native to North America, the species is active in the summer retreating to dens for hibernation during the winter.
This species makes venom which is dangerous to its small prey.
2. Prairie Ringneck Snake
This type of snake (Diadophis punctatus arnyi) also has yellow bellies, orange bellies, or red bellies.
A wide color pallet is specific to the underside of The Prairies Ringneck Snake.
The species has a base black dorsal color and a colored red or yellow rink behind its head that inspires its name.
The coloring of the species is mainly used to stay hidden or to deter predators through its high contrast.
Much of the lives of these snakes are spent hiding under rocks or leaves.
The snakes are active until the fall before retreating for the winter months.
3. Southern Ringneck Snake
Yellow ventral coloring is specific to Southern Ringneck Snakes (Diadophis punctatus punctatus). These snakes may also come in red ventral coloring.
Back spots along the ventral section are also specific to these snakes. In rare cases, Southern Ringneck Snakes may have the same gray or brown dorsal color across their ventral side as well.
Yellow or red rings around the neck are also specific to this species.
A venomous species only to small prey, these snakes are not dangerous to humans.
Apart from injecting venom in its soft prey, The Southern Ringneck Snake can also use mild constriction to overpower salamanders and similar prey.
4. Eastern Yellow-bellied Racer
The Eastern Yellow-bellied Racer (Coluber constrictor flaviventris) is one of the snakes with a changing appearance from its juvenile days to its adult days.
Yellow ventral color is specific to the adult but this can be different for the Eastern yellow-bellied juvenile Racer.
These snakes have a uniform belly color which is partly visible on their lower sides. Dorsal coloring is gray, olive, or brown.
The Eastern Yellow-bellied Racer is a non-venomous snake native to the North American South and Southeast.
5. Western Yellow-bellied Racer
Similar to their Eastern counterpart, Western Yellow-bellied Racers (Coluber constrictor mormon) grow to a length of up to 60 inches and also have yellow bellies.
Western Yellow-bellied Racers have a dark dorsal color as adults.
Much of the appearance of these snakes is different in their adult days from their juvenile days when they can be blotched.
The range of this species inspires its name.
Western and Southwestern states such as California and Nevada are the main distribution areas of the snake.
6. Plain-bellied Watersnake
The uniform yellow color of the Plain-bellied Watersnake (Nerodia erythrogaster) inspires its name.
Snakes of this genus have a yellow or pale yellow underbelly without any marks or spots.
This is a species that’s considerably shorter than Eastern or Western Yellow-bellied Racers as it can grow to a size of around 40 inches.
Much of its distribution resembles the areal of the Eastern Yellow-bellied Racer. This snake can be found in the Southeastern US states.
Snakes of this genus are also common prey to larger snakes or other types of aquatic species such as predatory fish.
7. Rough Greensnake
Rough Greensnakes (Opheodrys aestivus) are one of the most common arboreal snakes with yellow bellies.
This is a species that has a slender green body with a neon green dorsal color and pale yellow ventral color.
The yellow section on their bodies can be spotted as these snakes move along vegetation, particularly high on trees.
Good climbers, Rough Greensnakes often live on trees next to water or with branches overhanging water.
While slender, this snake can be as long as Plain-bellied Watersnakes.
The North American distribution of the species spreads throughout the Southeast as well as along the Eastern states, up to Southeastern Canada.
8. Diamondback Watersnake
The ventral coloring of Diamondback Watersnakes (Nerodia rhombifer) varies between yellow and brown.
Snakes of this species are known for having a different belly color depending on their habitat.
The color of the underside is uniform, unlike their dorsal coloring.
Growing to a maximum length of almost 70 inches, this snake is a type of watersnake.
All of its life is spent around water, in regions of Central and Southern US.
Diamondback Watersnakes are also known for being heavily keeled compared to other watersnakes.
They prefer slow-moving water such as streams or lakes.
9. Eastern Hognose Snake
Eastern Hognose Snakes (Heterodon platirhinos) are also known for having a yellow ventral color.
Their yellow bellies can also be cream, off-white, and even gray. Variable belly coloring is backed by variable dorsal coloring for The Eastern Hognose Snake.
This is a species that comes in green, brown, uniform, or banded dorsal coloring. Green, orange, gray, and brown are the dorsal colors its yellow ventral coloring is often paired with.
Eastern Hognose Snakes can further be identified by their upturned snouts. These may signal a dangerous species although these snakes aren’t dangerous or even venomous.
10. Speckled Kingsnake
Speckled Kingsnakes (Lampropeltis holbrooki) have a connection between their ventral color and their dorsal color.
They have yellow bellies but some yellow scales can also be seen dorsally on the species which has the main black color.
Yellow-black color combinations are the only colors the snake comes in.
Speckled Kingsnakes have a similar length to other kingsnakes but they can grow to almost 80 inches in rare cases.
Much of their lives in spend around water, places with sufficient prey. These snakes commonly eat frogs and lizards.
11. Aquatic Garter Snake
Aquatic Garter Snakes (Thamnophis atratus) are common in their range but not spotted outside of their Southwestern habitat.
Snakes of the species live in areas around California and Oregon.
Aquatic Garter Snakes are marked by their yellow ventral color and yellow dorsal stripes.
They can have an olive dorsal color or a dark olive-black dorsal color which makes them difficult to spot in aquatic areas with vegetation.
Some of the ideal habitats of the species include marshes, woodlands, or areas with vegetation around water.
This type of snake grows to a short length of between 20 and 40 inches.
12. Mississippi Green Watersnake
Mississippi Green Watersnakes (Nerodia cyclopion) are among the few snakes in North America with partial yellow bellies.
The ventral color is yellow but the section of the belly towards the tail is yellow and brown.
Dark brown or olive colors are specific to the dorsum of the species.
Snakes of this genus have a large variety of sizes depending on their area and habitat. They can be as short as 20-30 inches but they can also grow to 50 inches.
A visible size difference between males and females exists. Female snakes are larger.
Mississippi Green Watersnakes are an aquatic species living in the Southeast, preferably close to slow-moving waters such as lakes, ponds, and even streams.
While they may share their area with venomous species, Mississippi Green Watersnakes aren’t venomous.
13. Graham’s Crayfish Snake
This type of snake (Regina grahamii) is named after its diet, largely based on fresh crayfish.
A common snake in North America, Graham’s Crayfish is among the species that grow to a maximum length of up to 30 inches, many adults measuring just 20 inches.
The snake has a yellow belly. The same yellow color is generally seen on Graham’s Crayfish Snakes that have lateral stripes.
Its dorsal side varies in colors which have a dark nuance. These colors are either dark brown or dark gray.
Yellow or tan stripes may or may not be seen across its dorsum as well.]
14. Glossy Swampsnake
A similar shape and length are specific to Glossy Swampsnake (Liodytes rigida) as to Graham’s Crayfish Snake. Both of these species grow to a maximum length of around 30 inches with many individuals measuring just over 20 inches.
A dark appearance with a yellow body is also specific to this snake.
A yellow belly is specific to this snake. Unlike other snakes with bright bellies, Glossy Swampsnakes also have dark green or olive stripes along the belly, which means they don’t have uniform coloring.
Glossy Swampsnakes take on the coloring of their habitat as many of them have a dark olive color dorsally.
The same olive nuance is seen along the stripes on its yellow belly.
15. Striped Swampsnake
Dark yellow coloring is specific to the belly of The Striped Swampsnake (Liodytes alleni). This is a species that also may or may not have dark ventral scales.
A short type of snake, Striped Swampsnakes may reach a maximum length of around 20 inches, with an average of 14-15 inches.
As its name suggests, this is a species that grows in areas with plenty of moisture and vegetation.
They are found around swamps, grass prairies, and ditches.
Most Striped Swampsnakes in North America are distributed around Florida.
16. Brown Watersnake
Also known as The Water Pilot Snake, The Brown Watersnake (Nerodia taxispilota) is a dark species with yellow bellies.
Dark brown marks are also specific to its ventral side, as they are for its dorsal side.
This species has a dark brown or a dark gray dorsal color and it has a Southeastern US distribution.
It lives in swamps and areas around water with vegetation.
Reaching a length of up to 60 inches and even more in rare cases, this species is a common watersnake that isn’t harmful to humans as it’s not venomous.
17. Black Kingsnake
Yellow, tan, or cream colors are also seen on the belly of the Black Kingsnake (Lampropeltis nigra), a species that’s mostly black dorsally.
This species may be mostly black dorsally, but it shows high coloring variation ventrally.
It features plain yellow belly coloring in most cases. Black Kingsnakes also have a patterned yellow color with black bands on occasion.
This species grows to a size of at least 50 inches and it may reach a length of over 70 inches in the case of the largest Kingsnakes.
Its range includes Eastern US states. The snake prefers to live around farms and abandoned land.
Black Kingsnakes can be the snake with the yellow belly humans encounter the easiest in many of its Eastern US native states.