Black Snake with White Stripes – Solving the Mystery

You have most likely seen numerous black snakes with white stripes in the wild. They probably looked similar, didn’t they? Well, news flash, they probably weren’t despite looking pretty much the same.

There are actually a variety of snake species that exhibit this pattern, which explains why people report different behaviors, sizes, hunting tactics, personalities, etc.

So, today we will discuss black snakes with white stripes to see exactly what you’re dealing with.

7 White Striped Black Snakes

The following list is by a stretch of the imagination exhaustive. It only contains 7 of the most popular black snakes with white stripes, but others may be available in the wild, depending on the location.

It’s also worth noting that abnormal color patterns may occur occasionally. So, you might get a black snake with white stripes belonging to a species that doesn’t have that pattern normally.

With this out of the way, let’s begin our list, shall we?

1. Banded California Snake

The banded California snake (Lampropeltis zonata) is almost an imposter on today’s list. This is for 2 reasons. On the one hand, you can’t really tell if the snake is black with white stripes or white with black stripes. At least not always.

Then you have the fact that some banded California snakes aren’t black and white, to begin with. They are sometimes red and white or yellow and red, often with some black thrown into the mix.

But I’ll let it pass this time because this snake is such an iconic Californian reptile.

The banded California snake can grow up to 4-5 feet and inhabits a variety of ecosystems, like forests, desertic habitats, and grasslands. This species is well-adapted to regions with arid climates and don’t rely on water as much as other species.

The snake’s diet consists primarily of lizards, but it can eat a variety of other animals like birds and small mammals. The primary hunting method relies on a mix of stalking and agile striking, securing, and constricting the prey immediately.

The snake is quite docile and prefers to flee and maintain a low profile to avoid predators, including humans.

The species’ conservation status is secure due to the reptile’s resilience, reproduction success, and overall adaptability.

This, combined with the snake’s easygoing demeanor, qualifies the animal as one of the most popular in the pet trade.

2. Eastern Kingsnake

The eastern kingsnake is a true black snake with white stripes, unlike the previous species. This species is most widespread throughout the southeastern US and inhabits a range of ecosystems, including forests, swamps, grasslands, and any other habitat with sufficient vegetation, prey, and easy access to water.

The snake’s appearance is pretty iconic, as most specimens retain the same pattern. The snake is typically black with only slight variations in color intensity, depending on the individual.

The vertical bands are very thin, and they are more visible in some snakes than others. Interestingly, some kingsnakes also come with spotted underbellies for a change.

The snake grows up to 3-5 feet in its adult form, although most will remain closer to 3.5-4 feet.

But it is in terms of diet that this snake will blow you out of the water. We have the standard rodents, lizards, birds, and small mammals to consider, as these are typical prey for most medium-sized snakes.

But the kingsnake is actually notorious for preying on venomous snake species like copperheads and rattlesnakes. This is possible simply because kingsnakes are immune to the venom of both species.

More importantly, the snake’s digestive system contains powerful digestive juices that break down and neutralize any toxins present in its prey, including venom. The method of killing involves constricting the prey until breathing is no longer an option.

These adaptations have allowed kingsnakes to climb the food chain and become an important natural predator of venomous species that could prove harmful to humans.

Despite this seemingly grim reputation, the California kingsnake is actually docile and doesn’t harm humans.

It also displays a stable population in the wild with a secure conservation status.

3. Bandy-Bandy Snake

The name says it all for this species. The Bandy-Bandy snake comes with a black body and white bands traversing it head-to-tail.

This species comes with an agile body, allowing it to traverse accidental terrain with ease, always on the lookout for hunting opportunities.

The Bandy-Bandy snake is an Australian native and can usually be found in rocky and desertic regions, although, don’t expect to encounter it with ease. This species prefers to dwell underground, especially in human-made structures like abandoned mines and natural formations like caves.

The snake prefers these habitats because that’s where its preferred food lurks. Bandy-Bandy snakes feed primarily on blind snakes, which are underground dwellers. Blind snakes look like your typical earthworm, except they’re slightly larger.

From a behavior standpoint, the Bandy-Bandy snake is a solitary animal that doesn’t stray away from its main entry point into the burrow. This allows it to disappear when trouble brews ahead, slithering its way into the underground safe zone.

Due to this behavior, the Bandy-Bandy snake is very rarely seen in its natural habitat, which could drive one to the idea that it is an endangered species.

In reality, quite the contrary is true. This species thrives in the wild, primarily thanks to its secluded lifestyle and the abundance of prey in the catacombs it lurks in.

4. California Kingsnake

We’re traveling to California to meet one of the most popular reptiles in the region, the local kingsnake. This one wouldn’t have made it to today’s list if I were stricter than I actually am.

That’s because the California kingsnake isn’t exactly a black and white snake, but more a brown and almost-white one. This species is generally brown with white or cappuccino bands, giving it a distinct look among the local reptile fauna.

The snake is relatively small, only capable of reaching 3.5 feet in length. However, most snakes you’ll be able to find in the wild won’t go over 2 feet.

The California kingsnake has a varied diet, consisting of rodents, reptiles, and birds, but they also hunt for eggs whenever possible. The preferred killing method is constriction, and they’re quite good at it.

California kingsnakes are typically withdrawn animals that prefer solitude and peace. So, it’s unlikely that a kingsnake would attack you intentionally.

However, these animals won’t refrain from anything if that means increasing their chances of survival. So, expect to get bitten if you get too close or attempt to grab the snake.

Fortunately, this is a non-venomous species, and the bite isn’t dangerous to humans.

The population is stable, as the kingsnake is a true king of its habitat.

5. Florida Kingsnake

Florida Kingsnake

This is another species that shouldn’t have been on this list, but I simply could not resist its beauty and charm. The Florida kingsnake isn’t your typical banded reptile, as most individuals don’t even have bands.

Instead, their bodies are covered with thousands of small rhomboids, making the snakes appear as made of granite. This is an undeniably beautiful species, especially when you consider its outstanding color and pattern variation.

Some specimens will display a banded pattern, often mixed with the rhomboid one for an intricate color pattern. The snake is also fairly large, capable of reaching 4-5 feet in the wild.

Everything else is similar to the California kingsnake in terms of diet and behavior. Florida kingsnakes consume a variety of prey, including eggs, and use constriction to subdue their meals.

They are also fairly docile and will flee when encountering humans, but can also bite when threatened or cornered. It’s the typical dualist nature of snakes in general at play.

The population is stable with no major threats other than the standard one. These include habitat destruction and fragmentation and human activities like agriculture, deforestation, and urban development.

Fortunately, these haven’t affected the kingsnake population too much so far.

6. Arizona Black Rattlesnake

I have to admit that this species is one of my personal favorites. There’s just something dark and nightmarish about a venomous black snake that can kill with one bite. The Arizona black rattlesnake looks as ominous as it sounds.

The reptile can reach 4 feet in length and comes with a pitch-black body traversed by thin, subtle, and barely visible white bands.

The body is thick in the region, and the snake has a thin neck with a triangle-shaped head. These are indicative of its venomous nature. Unfortunately, you can’t check the animal’s pupil shape to confirm its envenomed status, or at least you’re unlikely to succeed.

That’s because this snake has very dark eyes to match its already Grim Reapery appearance.

Everything else about the Arizona black rattlesnake is fairly easy to deduce by analyzing the standard species. Rattlesnakes use venom and ambush hunting tactics to secure their meals, and they are rather aggressive and vicious animals.

Despite that, rattlesnakes prefer to avoid humans and will attempt to flee rather than face the threat.

However, they won’t back down from some good biting if the said human gets too close and ignores all of the warning signs. Which includes the loud rattling noise coming from the snake’s tail rings.

Rattlesnakes possess a cocktail of hemotoxic and neurotoxic components, which inflict tissue damage, organ failure, and paralysis. It’s not pretty, it’s not meant to be pretty, and it can kill you.

Fortunately, rattlesnake bites aren’t always lethal, although you don’t want to test that statistic. You should always take precautions when invading the snake’s native ecosystem and seek medical attention in case of biting.

7. Black Rat Snake

The black rat snake has no business being on today’s list because it doesn’t have any white bands. It’s just a black snake with a white underbelly, as plain as it sounds.

However, I had to include it on our list because of how many people perceive it. This species is commonly referred to as a white-striped snake, even though there are no stripes visible. So, the snake has to be here to dispel some of the confusion.

These snakes can grow up to 3-6 feet, so they’re fairly large and with thick bodies. Some are black, some are dark brown, while others are grey, but they all exhibit the same pattern simplicity. The body is always strong and muscular, which is what you would expect from a constrictor.

This species qualifies as a generalist predator. It will hunt and consume anything, so long as it’s of the right size. The preferred hunting method is constriction, in which the snake’s muscular body has elevated to perfection.

These snakes are excellent climbers and versatile predators that many people often mistake for venomous snakes. This can lead to confrontations from which the snakes rarely emerge victorious.

Despite these unfortunate situations, the black rat snake population is still stable and qualifies as a species of “Least Concern.”


Black snakes are clearly fascinating and scary, and most people tend to assume the worst whenever they spot them in the wild.

However, as you can see, they’re typically harmless, and you’re better off leaving them be than killing them. Snakes play a major role in their ecosystem, destroying pests like lizards, rodents, birds, and even other snakes.

So, you’re better off avoiding them and giving them space for their own good. And yours, if the snake in question is a black rattlesnake.

Robert from ReptileJam

Hey, I'm Robert, and I have a true passion for reptiles that began when I was just 10 years old. My parents bought me my first pet snake as a birthday present, which sparked my interest in learning more about them. read more...