A-z - Animals

Discover the 10 most colorful snakes in the world

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key point

  • Over time, snakes have adjusted their colors to their surroundings and needs.
  • Pigment clusters in snake skin produce just a few colors, which then mix to create vibrant colors and patterns.
  • Some of the most brightly colored snakes include the San Francisco garter snake, golden ring cat snake, blue Malayan coral snake, and sunshine snake.
Isolated scaleless corn snake
Snakes' unique color patterns developed as a mechanism to scare off predators


No matter how you feel about snakes, it's hard to deny their captivating beauty. Considering that there are more than 3,900 species of snakes worldwide, it's no surprise that they come in all sizes, colors and patterns. Most of us are only familiar with the common garden snake or the dreaded copperhead and cottonmouth snakes found in our backyards. However, in addition to being deadly and dangerous, we can also appreciate the beauty of snakes.

Snake skin has cells called chromatophores, which are limited to producing colors such as brown, black and red. Iridescent cells produce iridescence, which is reflected in the pigment cells of some snakes. So how do snakes take on purple, yellow, green, blue, and other colors? Well, the resulting basic colors interact or are available in varying quantities or qualities, resulting in a variety of colors and patterns found in different species.

Over time, snakes have developed different, unique colors and patterns as a mechanism to evade predators, lure prey and even scare off any threats. Depending on where they live, what they hunt, climate and other factors, snakes adapt to these factors and emerge accordingly.

We've narrowed the list down to the ten most colorful snakes in the world. Let's explore what makes these animals so beautiful and unique.

10. San Francisco garter snake (Thamnophis sirtalis tetrataenia)

San Francisco Garter Snake
The San Francisco garter snake has blue-green spots on the front of its scales surrounded by black, red, and blue-green stripes.

© reptiles4all/Shutterstock.com

We start our list with the colorful snake known as the San Francisco garter snake. This snake is a small, multi-colored subspecies of the common garter snake. It is distinguished by a striking pattern of black, red and teal stripes. The snake was one of the first to be designated as endangered under the Endangered Species Act. It is a non-venomous snake that captures and eats its victims whole.

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The San Francisco garter snake is one of the few creatures that can eat venomous California salamanders. Estimates of the species' adult population range from 1,000 to 2,000, according to the researchers. Since they come in so many beautiful colors, they look really pretty and look stunning. They are only mildly venomous and therefore do not pose a serious threat to humans.

9. Asian vine snake (Ahaetulla prasina)

The cutest snake in the world
Green vine snakes are a vivid green color, which helps people create effective concealment within trees.

©Ferdy Timmerman/Shutterstock.com

Ahaetulla prasina is a species of Colubridae snake native to South Asia. It is also known as the Asian vine snake, Boie's whip snake, Gunther's whip snake, and eastern whip snake. The body of this snake is a striking yellow-green color. When necessary, it may stretch its body to reveal a checkerboard pattern of light and dark scales. The Asian vine snake has a slender body that tapers at the end. It may be all one color, with a broad yellow stripe on the body, or dark green and blue stripes on the scales. Its primary color ranges from vivid green to blue-green, which helps it hide in the wild.

8. Golden Ring Cat Snake (Boiga dendrophillia)

The mangrove snake's large eyes and small vertical slits have earned it the nickname the "yellow-ringed catsnake."

© Fernanda Theory/Shutterstock.com

The mangrove snake, also known as the golden-ringed catsnake, is a subspecies of the leaf snake. At first glance, you might think this snake looks a lot like a bumblebee. Colorful snakes like this one don't come around very often. The colors of this adorable snake are sure to catch your eye as its body is mostly black but is surrounded by bright yellow stripes. Although not commonly kept in captivity, golden ringed cat snakes are occasionally kept by professional snake keepers. It's a venomous snake, but its venom isn't strong enough to kill a human. These black and yellow mangrove snakes are found in many places in the forests of South Asia.

7. White-lipped Island Rattlesnake (Trimeresurus insularis)

poisonous snake
White-lipped vipers come in a variety of stunning shades.

© Kurit afshen/Shutterstock.com

Trimeresurus albolabris, commonly known as the white-lipped viper or white-lipped tree viper, is a venomous venomous snake native to Southeast Asia. This stunning venomous snake is one of the most attractive snakes in the world. It comes in a variety of stunning shades. Some are turquoise, some are lime green, and some are yellow. White-lipped adders are carnivorous, feeding on nearby prey. Their natural habitat is in the woods, where they can be found in trees. They feed on amphibians, insects and birds.

6. Black-banded sea snake (Laticauda semifasciata)

Black-banded sea snakes have black vertical bands that form stripes on an otherwise white body, hence their common name.

© dwi putra stock/Shutterstock.com

Beautiful and colorful snake species can be found not only on land but also in the sea. Banded sea snakes are also known as yellow-lipped sea snakes due to the yellow upper lip above the black head and the black stripes on the white body. These snakes behave more like fish, hiding in coral reefs and waiting for prey. However, unlike fish, they breathe air and must surface every few hours for air.

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5. Blue Malayan Coral Snake (Calliophis bivirgatus)

The blue Malayan coral snake is one of the largest coral snake species.

© reptiles4all/Shutterstock.com

The blue Malayan coral snake is a colorful snake that lives in the tropical rainforests of Southeast Asia. Unlike its North American counterparts, it doesn't have a band. It has a dark blue body with light blue or white stripes on each side, and a stunning coral red head and tail. But don't be misled by its beauty. It is a highly venomous snake that occasionally kills humans. However, its venom functions differently than most snakes. It inhibits sodium channels, causing near-instant paralysis.

4. Checkered snake (Siphlophis cervinus)

Checkerbelly or Checker-bellied snake
Tartan snakes are one of the rarest snakes in the world as it is almost impossible to see them in person.

© Dr. Morley Read/Shutterstock.com

The plaid snake is a rare species found in Amazon South America and Trinidad and Tobago. Cobra snakes are nocturnal and are rarely seen during the day unless conditions are similar to those at night. If you see one, consider yourself very lucky as they are rare and hard to come by. The cobra is long and thin, with a broad head and bulging black eyes. Its design is a checkerboard combination of orange, black and bright yellow. This snake has a striking, detailed pattern that gives it the appearance of being beaded.

3. Paradise tree snake (Chrysopelea paradisiac)

Flying animals - flying snakes
Flying snakes jump from tree to tree to hunt and evade predators.

© Kurit afshen/Shutterstock.com

The Paradise Tree Snake, sometimes called the Paradise Flying Snake, is a species of snake found in Southeast Asia. The basic color of this snake is black and appears to be covered with small spherical dots. The dots vary in color, but are usually green, yellow, red, or a mix of the three. In addition to the gorgeous colors, this snake has an impressive talent! It can flatten its body into a ribbon-like structure and fly into the air. While the body moves, the head remains relatively stable. When it starts to glide, it can fly 30 feet or more before landing.

2. Corn snake (Pantherophis guttatus)

Corn snake wrapped around a branch
The corn snake is often mistaken for the deadly copperhead, causing many people to flee or kill it.

© iStock.com/bugphai

The corn snake is a rat snake native to North America that uses constrictions to subdue its victims. It may be found throughout the southeastern and central United States. Corn snakes have been carefully bred to produce some pretty amazing color changes, making them particularly colorful snakes. These include fluorescent shades, striped variations, and even white "opals" with pink or blue streaks. These tame snakes make great pets. In fact, they are the second most popular pet snakes in the world, after the famous ball python.

1. Sunshine Snake (Xenopeltis unicolor)

Top 10 Most Beautiful Snakes - Sunbeam Snake
Sunbeam snakes have a layer of melanin pigmentation just below the surface of each scale, which adds to the iridescence.

© MP cz/Shutterstock.com

Would you believe us if we said you could see a rainbow in a snake? Sunshine snakes have iridescent scales that reflect nearly every color in the rainbow. Underneath each scale is a layer of black pigment that enhances the shine. Sun snakes are known for their shiny, smooth and iridescent scales. These snakes are non-venomous and use constriction to kill their prey. They generally avoid humans, but if they feel threatened, they will wag the end of their tail like a rattlesnake.

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Which other animals are particularly colorful?

Yellow Animal - Golden Poison Dart Frog
The golden poison frog is the largest species of the golden dart frog and is particularly poisonous

© Thorsten Spoerlein/Shutterstock.com

Golden Dart Frog: The first thing you notice is the beautiful golden skin of this little frog with big black eyes. The contrast between that and the gold and black spots on its limbs.

But before you succumb to the temptation to reach out and touch, be warned: this amphibian is the most venomous creature on earth, and a touch can stop your heart from beating.

One particular species, the golden poison frog, is actually the largest of them all, and may even be mint green or orange. It was also able to affect nearly a dozen people. The strangest thing about this tiny frog is that it was free of venom in captivity, leading experts to believe its potent venom came from its prey.

blue ringed octopus
Blue-ringed octopuses release tetrodotoxin, a neurotoxin 1,000 times stronger than cyanide

© iStock.com/Subaqueosshutterbug

Blue-ringed octopus: These nocturnal molluscs prefer to feed only on small fish and crustaceans and live in tide pools, coral reefs and algae beds in the Indian and Pacific oceans. These cephalopods are known for their blue fluorescent rings, special iris cells and pigment cells that flash when they feel threatened.

When threatened, these octopuses release tetrodotoxin, a powerful neurotoxin that paralyzes muscles and is therefore very dangerous. The toxin itself is described as 1,000 times more powerful than cyanide.

Southern puffer fish isolated on white background
Although fugu is extremely poisonous, it is also eaten in some parts of the world


Pufferfish: This fish is a bit like an inflated balloon and seems harmless. In fact, it's actually edible, but only if it's prepared with great care, a process that requires a lot of training — and even then there's no guarantee.

Because this sea creature has the same powerful toxin as the blue-ringed octopus – tetrodotoxin. A single fish can pose a serious threat to about 30 people. Known in Japan as fugu , the fish takes about two or three years of training before dedicated chefs are considered qualified to serve one of the world's most dangerous creatures on a plate.

hazard summary

snakes coloring
sun snake iridescent rainbow overlay black
corn snake Patterns in orange, white, sometimes blue, lilac
paradise tree snake black with green "dots"
Green-bellied face with yellow spots; yellow mouth
Checkered snake Orange, black, yellow checkerboard pattern back, sides, belly
blue malayan coral snake Iridescent blue body with an orange head with light blue horizontal stripes
black belt sea kate Gray body with black stripes
White-lipped Island Rattlesnake turquoise, green or yellow
Golden Ring Cat Snake Black body with yellow stripes
Asian vine snake Lime green body with white belly scattered with light/dark checkered scales
San Francisco Garter Snake Light blue back stripe with black stripes on sides Orange and black checkered edge Turquoise side straps

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about the author


Volia Nikaci is a freelance writer and content editor with a passion and expertise in content creation, branding and marketing. She has a background in broadcast journalism and political science from CUNY Brooklyn College. When not writing, she enjoys traveling, visiting used bookstores, and hanging out with her significant other.

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