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Snakes are amongst the most feared reptiles everywhere and in this post, we will focus on a particular type of snakes with yellow stripes and spots all over their bodies or in their bellies. Globally, there are over 3,000 snake species distributed across many regions with different shapes, sizes, and even colors. The only regions without snakes are Greenland, Antarctica, New Zealand, Ireland, and Iceland.

Of the total, approximately 600 species are poisonous, and just around 200 of these venomous snakes can wound or kill a human being. The rest are either harmless or less harmless. Irrespective of how they prey (crushing or attacking with venom), you should know that almost all snakes eat their food whole

While there are some species of snakes that are scaleless, nearly all snakes are covered in scales, and being reptiles, they are of course cold-blooded. Though scaleless, these species have scales on their stomachs. Scales are important in trapping moisture (in arid regions) and reducing friction during movement.

Black Snakes with Yellow Stripes, Rings, Spots/ Yellow Belly

My wife fears snakes more than a gun! Anything long, black, and crawling is a snake to her and snakes are deadly creatures. And while that may be true, not all black snakes pose a threat to humans. So, for her sake and others too, today we look at black snakes with yellow stripes, rings and spots or with yellow belly.

We shall look at their descriptions, distribution (range), habitats, and how they hunt.

Description and Physical Characteristics

Known in its scientific name as diadophis punctatus punctatus (LINNAEUS 1766), the southern Ringneck Snake is one of the many non-venomous snakes in the world. 

The average southern Ringneck snake adult measures 6” to 10” (15.2 cm to 25.4 cm) long with the longest record being 18.9” or 48 cm. Adult snakes in this species are small and have a slender body with a black body and yellow ring across the neck. Others have orange or cream rings around the neck.

The Southern Ringneck Snake has a bright yellow belly (sometimes red or orange) with a single row of half-moon dots down the center. It features smooth scales with the mid-body having 15 to 17 dorsal scale rows, plus a round pupil. Young snakes have the same color as adults.

While some diurnal activity has been observed, Ringneck snakes are mostly nocturnal.


The Ringneck snakes make up one of the leading geographic distribution of any snake species in North America. It is also represented by several subspecies, and you will find them throughout the eastern (2/3 of the US) from southern Canada to Florida, along the Pacific Coast, and across the deserts. In Georgia, Ringneck snakes are protected unlike in other states.


Ringneck snakes will be found in a wide range of habitats, mostly inhabiting forested areas, including forest clearings and edges. Western and northern subspecies inhabit the open woodlands near rocky hillsides, or in damper regions with woody debris or ample cover. They are most common in regions with surface bedrock and shallow soil, where they hide under tree barks, logs, or even under rocks.

When the weather gets warm, Ringneck snakes will retreat underground where they also hibernate.

How they hunt and feed

Ringneck snakes hunt their prey via both constriction and envenomation methods. While they do not have true venom gland, the Ringneck snakes have the Duvernoy’s gland (an analogous structure originating from the same tissue). Their venom is mostly for hunting rather than defense against predators.

Primarily, Ringneck snakes feed on slugs, smaller salamanders, and earthworms. Sometimes, however, their diet will include some young snakes from other species, frogs, and lizards. They choose their frequent prey depending on its availability within the territory.

Lifespan of Kingsnake

Like Ringneck snakes, Kingsnakes are also non-venomous and kill their prey by constriction. They derive their appellation from their ability to eat other snakes with milk snakes being a good example of a Kingsnake.

While the lifespan of Kingsnakes in the wild remains mysterious, they have a lifespan of 20 to 30 years in confinement.

Are they endangered?

No, Kingsnakes are not endangered, especially those found in the North America region. Some of their populations, however, are decreasing, especially the Todos Santos Island Kingsnake. The eastern Kingsnakes in the southeastern coastal plain and Florida are also said to be decreasing. The cause of the decrease is yet to be discovered, but consumption of Kingsnake eggs and newly-hatched snakes by invasive fire ants are said to play the major role.

How to identify a red and black snake

If you want to identify a red and black snake also known as a coral snake, look for red, black, and white or yellow banding around the body of the snake. The coral snake is a highly venomous snake that is found in North America.

While many snakes possess similar markings, the coral snake distinguishes itself with red rings that are sandwiched between white or yellow bands.

Snakes with Yellow Rings

Do you wish to see snakes with yellow rings? Travel to the US and visit the state of Georgia, where the mild winters and hot summers make it a common habitat for a wide range of snakes. We are talking about over 40 species inhabiting the state of Georgia, with some black and have yellow rings.

While not all black and yellow snakes are venomous, some lethal species with this description use the yellow rings to tip prospective predators off. Let us have a look at the variety of snakes with yellow rings.

Ringneck snake

Description: Known by the scientific term diadophis punctatus, Ringneck snakes are small non-venomous snakes that measure 10” to 15” long when mature. Ringneck snakes have a yellow ring behind their neck, thus the name, but they have solid black and light grey base colors with a bright yellow belly. 

Diet: Their main diet is small insects, amphibians, snakes, slugs, and worms.

Ringneck snakes show their yellow-colored bellies when threatened to frighten away potential predators.

Eastern Kingsnake

Description: As the name suggests, the Eastern Kingsnake is a snake eater. They are large solid black snakes with several yellow rings all around its body, and can grow up to 3 to 4 feet long. Often, those in the northern parts of Georgia have solid black or pale spotted yellow bands. The ones on the southern coastal plains have different, large yellow bands.

Diet: The Eastern Kingsnake feeds on pit vipers like rattlesnakes and copperheads.

The Eastern Kingsnake uses the yellow bands to create an optical trickery to predators when moving.

Eastern Coral Snake

Description: Known by their scientific name micrurus fulvius, the Eastern Coral Snake ranks as the most fatal snake in North America, but can also be found in Georgia’s southern regions. These snakes can grow up to 4 feet long, and inhabit the pine and sand oak forests near the Florida boarder, as well as along the Gulf Coast.

The Eastern Coral Snake features a solid black body with bright yellow and red bands, and strike their prey with venom.

Diet: Coral snakes diet primarily consists of lizards and other snakes.

Scarlet Snake

Description: Yet another non-venomous black snake with yellow stripes, the Scarlet snake is brightly-colored and looks like the coral snake. A mature Scarlet snake measures 2 feet long and features a black body with a bright yellow and red pattern. The colorations differ from one snake to another with some snakes having more red patterns than others.

You will find the Scarlet snake everywhere in the state of Georgia, but not on the peak mountains in the north.

Diet: Scarlet snakes consist of a range of foods such as other snakes, bird eggs, small rodents, and lizards.

While they look like the poisonous Eastern Coral snake, the difference is in the bands. Scarlet snakes feature red bands bordered by black instead of yellow.


Are black snakes with yellow stripes poisonous?

Not all! As we have seen above, there are many species of snakes with yellow stripes. Of the listed species, only the Eastern Coral Snake is the most poisonous, but not to humans.

Are king snakes poisonous?

Not to humans! While some Kingsnakes might bite more than others, they are known to be quiet once tamed. The level of biting depends on the snake’s temperament.

What kinds of snakes have yellow rings?

The most commonly known kinds of snakes with yellow rings are the Ringneck snakes, known by the scientific name diadophis punctatus. They are harmless and can be mostly found throughout the US, southeastern Canada, and central Mexico.

What happens if a Ringneck snake bites you?

Nothing! Ringneck snakes might bite, but they have mild venom which can cause no harm to humans. Furthermore, their fangs are located at the back of the jaw which means it mostly for feeding on prey not striking.

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