While there is not a species called yellow snake, the term can be applied to several different snake varieties. Depending on where you live, yellow snake can refer to the yellow rat snake from the colubrinae family or the ball python from the pythonidae family. Should you encounter a yellow snake, the best way to identify it is to look for other distinguishing characteristics, other than its yellow scales.
Yellow Rat Snake
The yellow rat snake is a medium-sized constrictor native to the southeast region of America. An adult yellow rat snake can reach up to 6 feet in length. Naturally a docile breed, the yellow rat snake makes a great beginner pet. In addition to yellow scales, the yellow rat snake can be identified by the brown stripes that generally run down the length of its body. Its eyes will usually match the color of its body. Also, pay attention to its muscle build. As a constrictor, the yellow rat snake often has a thin body with a well-muscled build.
Yellow Corn Snake
The yellow corn snake is a close relative of the yellow rat snake. As members of the colubridae family, both share several characteristics. The yellow corn snake lives off a diet of rodents, which it constricts before swallowing whole. It is also native to the southeast region of America, ranging from Maryland to Florida. The scale pattern of the yellow corn snake often varies depending on genetics and breeding. Some color morphs, such as the butter corn and Creamsicle corn, are bright yellow with few off-colored spots. Other color morphs, such as the Carolina corn and amelanistic stripe, appear more orange or auburn than yellow. The yellow corn snake can often be identified by its off-colored saddles that run down the length of its body. Also, the underbelly is usually black and white striped.
Ball Python Morph
The ball python is a nonvenomous python snake native to Africa. The common ball python has a color pattern that is often black and brown with some tan or gold. However, by breeding mutated color varieties, snake enthusiasts have created morphs, which come in altered colors and scale patterns. Among the most popular ball python yellow morphs are the lemon blast, yellow ghost, bumblebee and Halloween. The ball python can generally be identified by its triangular head, common for a python, and cream-colored underbelly. Another characteristic of the ball python is its tendency to curl into a ball when frightened, hence its name.
Green Tree Python Morph
The green tree python is a species native to New Guinea, Indonesia and Australia. Due to heavy importation, these pythons are often found in exotic pet stores in America. As its name suggest, the green tree python is generally lime green in color. However, hatchlings are born orange or yellow. While most darken as they age, some remain yellow their entire lives. Because they are not native to America, it is unlikely that you will encounter one in the wild. However, one distinct identifying characteristic of this snake is its particular way of resting on a tree branch. It will often coil itself around a tree branch in the shape of a saddle while resting its head in the middle at the hilt.