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White-striped Black Snake – What Could It Be?

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key point:

  • Black and brown are the most common colors for American snakes.
  • They may be Eastern garter snakes.
  • Black and brown snakes may also be yellow rat snakes.

In many parts of the United States, finding a snake in your yard is almost inevitable, especially as summer and spring arrive. When it comes to snakes, part of being safe and doing the right thing is knowing what kind of snake you're looking at.

Today, we'll help you identify the most common white-striped black snake in the United States. While this isn't a complete list (you know, there are over 3,000 species of snakes out there), it probably covers the most likely culprits you can find to sneak into your yard.

White-striped Black Snake – What Could It Be?

Black and brown are probably the most common colors for snakes, especially in the United States.

Thankfully, adding the secondary feature of "white stripes" really narrows things down. To keep things tidy and organized, we've broken down each type of black snake with white stripes into a few key elements:

  • appearance
  • scope
  • Habitat
  • diet
  • Levels of danger

Using this guide, you can easily identify a black snake with white stripes that you spot in your yard or while hiking. let's start.

How common are black and brown colors in snakes?

Black Racer Snakes in Wilson County
Racers eat small animals such as rodents, frogs, toads, lizards, birds and bird eggs.

©Matthew L Niemiller/Shutterstock.com

Snakes are one of the most diverse and fascinating creatures on earth. They come in a variety of colours, patterns and sizes, each suited to its unique setting and lifestyle. One of the most distinctive features of snakes is their color. While many snakes are known for their bright and bold colors, others display more subdued hues such as black and brown. But how common are black and brown on snakes?

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Black and brown colors are actually common among snakes, and they can be found in a variety of species around the world. In fact, many snake species have evolved black or brown scales as a way of blending in with their surroundings and avoiding detection by predators or prey.

In North America, for example, several types of venomous snakes, such as the copperhead and cottonmouth, are predominantly brown or black in color, with varying patterns of lighter and darker scales. These patterns help them blend into fallen leaves and other debris on the forest floor, making them harder for predators and prey alike to spot.

eastern garter snake

White-striped Black Snake - What Could It Be?
The garter snake is one of the most common snake species in the United States.

©Erik Agar/Shutterstock.com

Eastern garter snakes (along with all other species of garter snakes) are some of the most common snakes you'll find in the United States. They come in many colors, but black is one of the most common. These common snakes are often found in gardens, which is why people mistakenly refer to them as "garden snakes."

Appearance: Black, gray or brown body. Three longitudinal stripes running from head to tail, which may be yellow or white. A more checkered pattern is occasionally present, usually on lighter colored snakes. Can grow up to 5 feet long.

Range: Much of the eastern United States, mostly in the south.

Habitat: Grasslands, woodlands, woodlands, forests and suburbs.

Diet: Worms, slugs, frogs, toads, and salamanders.

Hazard level: low. Non-toxic, but can be aggressive if overhandled.

weasel snake

White-striped Black Snake - What Could It Be?
There are many types of rat snakes, but the black and yellow subspecies are most likely black with white stripes.


The chinchilla is probably the second most common snake you'll see in your yard. This long snake can grow to over 6 feet and is easily confused with the eastern garter snake. However, the distribution of rat snakes is slightly more numerous than that of garter snakes.

Appearance: Black body with a tinge of white or yellow between the scales. Different species of ratsnakes may have four black stripes on the back, especially yellow ratsnakes. The belly is lighter in color, usually cream or white.

Range: Much of the Southeast, Northeast, and Midwest.

Habitat: Almost all habitats. Hills, forests, abandoned buildings, barns, suburbs, fields.

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Diet: mice, rats, squirrels, birds, eggs.

Hazard level: low. Non-toxic, but emits a musky odor when threatened.

california kingsnake

california kingsnake
California kingsnakes come in a variety of solid colors with stripes.

© Creeping Stuff/Shutterstock.com

One of the prettiest snakes on our list, the California kingsnake, as its name suggests, is native to California. Kingsnakes are common throughout most of the United States, and they come in a variety of colors. Additionally, California kingsnakes are known for their gentle dispositions and are often kept as pets.

Appearance: Various solid colors with stripes. Usually white with strong black streaks or black with strong white streaks. Can grow up to 4 feet long.

Range: Southwestern states into Baja Mexico, California coast up through Oregon.

Habitat: Adaptable. Common in woodlands, forests, grasslands, fields and deserts.

Diet: Other snakes (including venomous snakes), rodents, lizards, frogs and birds.

Hazard level: low. Non-toxic and known for its gentle disposition. Often kept as pets.

common king snake

Eastern King Snake
The common kingsnake has a black body with strong white stripes.

© iStock.com/JasonOndreicka

There are several kinds of king snakes, and the common king snake is often called the eastern king snake. Similar to the California kingsnake, these amazing animals are known as "kings" because their diet consists mainly of other snakes. Although they come in different colors and patterns, eastern kingsnakes are usually black and white.

Appearance: Black body with strong white stripes. Can grow up to 4 feet long.

Range: Eastern US

Habitat: From the ocean to the mountains and everywhere in between.

Diet: Other snakes (including venomous snakes), rodents, lizards, frogs and birds.

Hazard level: low. Non-toxic and known for its gentle disposition. Often kept as pets.

southern black racer

White-striped Black Snake - What Could It Be?
Black racers are usually solid black, but their white underbelly can make them appear striped.

©Psychotic Nature/Shutterstock.com

Southern Negro racing cars are named for their amazingly fast gliding ability. These common snakes are long and slender and can be found throughout most of the United States. An interesting fact is that they really don't like being treated, even after months in captivity. When handled, they strike and release an unpleasant, musky fragrance.

Appearance: Slender body, black back. Gray belly and white chin. Can grow up to 5 feet long.

Range: Eastern United States, from the Florida Keys to Maine. Other species of racers are found in different parts of the United States.

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Habitat: Forests, woodlands, meadows, grasslands, dunes and deserts.

Diet: lizards, insects, mammals, eggs, small snakes, eggs.

Hazard level: low. Non-toxic, but cannot tolerate being touched. Can give off an unpleasant odor.

queen snake

White-striped Black Snake - What Could It Be?
Queen snakes are brown, gray, or olive in color and have a clearly striped abdomen.

©Nathan A Shepard/Shutterstock.com

The queen snake is a semi-aquatic snake that goes by many names (banded water snake, brown queen snake, diamondback, leather snake, and moon snake, just to name a few). While it looks extremely similar to a garter snake, a quick look at its abdomen is a good way to tell the difference between the two. Queen snakes have stripes on their abdomens, while garter snakes do not.

Appearance: Black, olive, gray or dark brown body. There is a pink, yellow, or white-stained stripe on the back and a similar stripe on the belly. Can grow to 2-3 feet long.

Range: Piedmont and mountainous regions of the eastern United States and the Midwest from the Great Lakes to Louisiana.

Habitat: Aquatic snakes that can be found near streams, ponds, etc.

Diet: Crayfish, fish and small aquatic animals.

Hazard level: low. Non-toxic, but can give off an unpleasant odor if mishandled.

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black and white king snake
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about the author

Colby Maxwell

Colby is a freelance writer from Charlotte, North Carolina. When he's not distracted by the backyard bird feeder, you can find him camping, exploring, and telling everyone around him what he's learned recently. There's a whole world to learn, and Colby is content to spend his life learning as much of it as he can!

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