Snake identification is a fun but potentially dangerous hobby. Snakes in the Central California Valley range from harmless gartersnakes to poisonous rattlesnakes. Among the hardest snakes to identify, though, are the banded snakes. Banded snakes come in a variety of colors, but the most prominent colors in California are red, black, white and yellow. Examples of snakes with the banded pattern are the mountain kingsnake, the shovel-nosed snake, the ground snake and the long-nosed snake.
Note the pattern of colors on the snake. Do the colors go from red to black to white, or from black to red to white? The California mountain kingsnake color pattern goes from white to black to red to black to white. The shovel-nosed snake pattern looks similar to the mountain kingsnake's, but instead of white, the shovel-nosed is yellow and all bands are the same size.
Observe how thick the bands are. Are the color bands all small and skinny, or are some thicker than others? The red bands on a California Mountain Kingsnake are much thicker than the white or black bands, while the bands on a pale long-nosed snake are roughly equal in thickness.
Identify which colors are included in the pattern. Some types of California snakes are only white and black, or red and black, or red, black and yellow instead of white. The shovel-nosed snake looks similar to the California mountain kingsnake, but instead of white bands, the shovel-nosed snake's bands are yellow. It can be sometimes hard to tell white from yellow, so be sure you know what you're looking at.
Tips & Warnings
- Many snakes in central California are venomous, including the various types of rattlesnakes. Rattlesnake patterns don't include red, black or white and are more of a brown and tan in a diamond pattern. If you see this type of snake or hear the warning rattle, use caution.
- Photo Credit Hemera Technologies/PhotoObjects.net/Getty Images
How to Identify Snakes in California
Snakes are mysterious creatures that evoke strong emotions in people. When suddenly stumbling across a snake, some people shriek from fear at...
How to Identify Red & Black Striped Snakes
Snakes with red and black stripes can range from deadly poisonous to completely harmless, so it's important to be able to distinguish...
Black & Orange Striped Snakes in California
In a state like California that has so many species of snakes, snake Identification at a glance can be tricky. Several native...
California King Snake Facts
The California king snake is a member of the family Colubridae, the largest classification of snakes which encompasses almost two-thirds of all...
Garden Pests: Black Caterpillars With White & Red Stripes
Many different kinds of caterpillars are black with white and red markings on their bodies. Most black, white and red caterpillars come...
What Type of Snake Is Black With a White Diamond Outline on Its Back?
A few snakes sport a diamond pattern on their backs, which helps them avoid detection by both predators and prey. The contrast...
How to Identify a Black and White Spotted Snake
If you are at a reptile center or out rambling, then you might want to identify the black and white spotted snake...
Types of Black & Yellow Snakes
Thousands of species of snake exist, coming in a range of sizes, types and colorings. Being able to identify a species of...