What colors do snakes see?

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What colors do snakes see?

Bob Myers

Votes: 7615

It is impossible to tell exactly how snakes perceive color, but from the structure of their eyes we know that they have relatively low-resolution color vision, and are dichromats, having just two types of color receptors in their eyes vs. three in humans. So they can’t distinguish colors as well as humans can. How the colors they do see appear to the snake is anyone’s guess. Many snakes also can “see” to some degree in infrared, via a separate set of receptors, so they can directly detect heat. We have no idea how this appears to them either, of course.

Kurt Lee Price

Votes: 5435

San Francisco Garter Snake

Rainbow White-Lipped Python

Samar Cobra

Rhinoceros Viper

Blue Coral Snake

White Lipped Pit Viper

African Hairy Bush Viper

Golden Eyelash Pit Viper

Blue Racer (Coluber constrictor foxii)

Monocled Cobra

Cape Cobra

Eastern Green Mamba

Red Spitting Cobra

Gaboon Viper


Puff Adder

Red-Headed Krait

Gabino Viper

Banded Krait

Yellow Anaconda

Eyelash Palm Pit Viper

European Adder

Eastern Coral Snake

Death Adder

Mangshan Pit Viper

Zebra Spitting Cobra

Malabar Pit Viper

Emerald Tree Boa

Yellow-Lipped Sea Snake

Ball Pythons

Milk Snake

Golden Lance-Head

Hundred Pacer Pit Viper

King Snake

Brazilian Rainbow Boa

Formosa Odd-Scaled Snake

Asian Vine Snake

Gold-Ringed Cat Snake

Broad-Banded Temple Pit Viper

Spectacled Cobra

Paradise Tree Snake

Sumatran Short-Tailed Python

Rinkhals Ring-Necked Spitting Cobra

Arunachal pit viper

Mangrove Pit Viper

Hog-Nosed Pit Viper

Allen’s Coral Snake

Egyptian Cobra The Asp

Neo-Tropical Rattlesnakes Cascabel, Tzabcan, Mexican West Coast

Tiger Snakes

Hump-Nosed Pit Viper

Two-Striped Forest Lance-Head Amazonian Parrot Snake

Mozambique Spitting Cobra

Corn Snakes

Stejnegers Palm Pit Viper Bamboo Pit Viper, Green Tree Viper

Red Racer Coluber Flagellum

Spotted Bush Snake

Long-Nosed Viper

Western Green Mamba

Terciopelo (Fer-de-Lance) Bothrops-Asper

Black-Necked Spitting Cobra

Nupoor Chandraker

Votes: 6836

Snakes can see the visible spectrum, i.e., all the colours visible to humans, though they have a rather poor eyesight. In addition to this, they can see the infrared light – the light above our visible spectrum.

Cody Lee Kinser

Votes: 9026

The Question is quite easy to answer, and no it does not include crossbreeding…

Snakes get their colors and design based on a few key factors.

These factors, among others, influence how the snake will look color and pattern wise. Take for instance, the Mojave Rattle Snake (picture below)

The Mojave Rattlesnake is the most toxic rattle snake in North America. Native to Arizona, New Mexico, Nevada, California, and Western Texas. The environments this snake calls home have a ground composition of sediment (dirt and sand), stone, and sparse vegetation. The ground is mostly shades of brown to yellow. This rattlesnake, like other species in the same environment, adapted a diamond esq. patterning with shades of brown and yellow for their color. This helps them to camouflage in the environment to await prey, and hide from predators or other unsavory things like humans. This snake has few predators, and relies on it’s camouflage for ambushing prey above all.

Here we have a Fox Snake. These snakes are arboreal, meaning they live in trees. These snakes are no stranger to hunting on the ground though. Their camouflage is meant to hide them against tree bark in their native environment.

This however, is the yellow variant of the Eyelash Viper. Unlike the other two snakes, this one does not have any form of camouflage. It is an arboreal snake species, spending most of it’s life in trees preying on birds and other arboreal species. The color this species adorned, which sticks out like a sore thumb, is meant as a warning to predators. These snakes are incredibly lethal with their venom. Their coloring is called Aposematic Coloration. Aposematism is where a venomous (or non-venomous) species adorns a bright, vibrant color, to ward off predators from attempting to eat the species in question. Some non-venomous or lightly venomous species will take on Aposematic Coloration to defend themselves, when it is merely an idle threat. It is an effective defense tactic against predators, because one venomous bite or poisonous mucus could be the end of them. Not worth it.

Here’s a picture of some leaves. Oh wait! It’s a Gaboon Viper. An unusually large species of viper native to jungle like forests. These snakes are also incredibly toxic, but have few predators due to their size, strength, and venom potency. Their camouflage makes it nearly impossible to see on the forest floor among the scattered leaves and waist high bushes. What’s worse, unlike their rattle snake brothers, they do not make a sound when you get too close. The last thing you hear, is your own scream, as it bites your leg and injects it’s lethal concoction. Always watch your step, it could be your last with this thing around.

This is a water noodle (Banded Krait).

Is it adorable?


Is it deadly?

Unbelievably so…

Krait snakes are similar to Coral snakes in how their fangs work. Instead of like all Vipers with two needle like fangs (the steryotype), they have a row of fixed teeth. Their venom also differs from a lot of land based snakes because they live in close proximity to water and feed on fish. They have a stronger neurotoxin to paralyze and destroy their victim quicker. Adorable snek, but do not boop, unless you want to die.

The last snake we are discussing is the green anaconda. The biggest snake in the world when measured by mass. They have a green and black coloration that hides them well in the mossy thick soup of the rivers they inhabit. While they are sluggish on land due to their weight, they are lethal in the water. Unlike a large majority of snakes, this one does not have venom at all. Instead, this snake constricts and suffocates their victim after grappling on with hook like fangs. It relies on it’s strength to kill, and uses the camouflage to get close enough to strike.

I hope this answers your question as you would have liked! I also hope that you either learned something or took an interest in some of the species I outlined.

Mark Lambert

Votes: 4792

Do cats see in all colors or do they see in black and white?

T. Barczuk

Votes: 2957

The above is a rainbow snake, Leiopython albertisii or D’Albertis Python from Papua New Guinea. It lives on the ground but sometimes climbs trees. It’s non-venomous. It eats small to medium-sized mammals, birds and reptiles.

Below is another rainbow snake, Xenopeltis unicolor. These snakes are fossorial, which means that they dig and live in the soil. The iridescent colour of their scales evolved so that the moist soil doesn’t stick to it. It has a special micro-structure for it and the colour is just a side effect of this microstructure. It lives in Southeast Asia and Indonesia. It’s a non-venomous constrictor with a varied diet.

The question was: What is the best color of a snake?

Gloria Cole

Votes: 7665

Do snakes see humans as threat to them?

We often encountered snakes in the Alabama rural areas when we set up archaeological sites. When they see us coming they scoot. But, they don’t go far. If you walk out into the woods around the area of the site, you will find them – apparently watching what you are doing, when will you leave and let them have their peaceful life back. In freezing weather, we had to check the water pumps before cranking them up. Often a snake would curl up under the warm machine for a long winter night’s nap. We had to wake him up and send him on his way before starting our trash pump for the day’s work.

Matthew Haynes

Votes: 492

A colorful animal is that way as a dare. “Touch me, motherf**ker, I dare you. Try it and see what happens.” And what usually happens is a dangerous if not fatal dose of poison or venom.

Snakes are particularly prone to using that method of defense. The coral snake, the sea snakes, many cobras… deadly and with striking colors, though the cobra’s are usually on the hood to enhance an already menacing display.

There are safe snakes that are colorful: the milk snake mimics the coral snake, with the difference being that coral snakes have bands of red and yellow that touch each other, whereas milk snakes the red bands touch black (“red touches yellow, kill a fellow; red touches black, friendly Jack” is the rhyme by which you can remember it). But generally… stay away from colorful snakes. Stay away from colorful anything.

Mike Richards

Votes: 324

Snakes actually generally have pretty good eyesight, they can see well enough to be able to strike and hit prey at reasonable distances, what their brain makes of what they see is another matter, they do not have sophisticated brains like mammals and their understanding is understood to be limited!

The thermal detection mentioned is limited to certain species, pit vipers as mentioned, pythons and some boas, emerald tree boa being one.

Hearing is a bit more sophisticated than mentioned, they have no ear, but their ear bone is connected to their jaw, so they can hear, but again, their interpretation of the sound is unknown, they are however sensitive to it, excess noise and vibrations can cause stress.

Jack Flash

Votes: 816

Brown or tan seems to be the most used color. But snakes come in many other colors such as orange, yellow, red, black, and blue.

Snake skin has cells called chromatophores that are limited to producing colors such as brown, black, and red. Iridophore cells produce iridescence, which is reflected by chromatophores in some snakes

Darrin R. TowneDonna Fernstrom

Votes: 3066

Can snakes see with their eyes?

Yes, snakes can see from their eyes but not very well. They use other methods such as taste/smell, ground vibration, and heat detection to create a more detailed image.

The following articles explain how they do this, but it varies from snake to snake. For instance not all snakes have heat sensing pits.

Snakes have poor eyesight, but can boost their vision if threatened

Snake infrared detection unravelled

Natali Jakarian

Votes: 108

That depends… Here are some really cool examples!

Human peacock

birds human

Human dogs!

snakes human

Cuttlefish human

Bees human

human (above)

cats (below)

human butterfly

Conclusion: each animal sees colors differently 🙂

Sai Karun

Votes: 5140

Do snakes can see like humans?


Snakes in general have a poor eyesight, they can identify only shapes but not details. There are a few exceptions to this in the form of cobras which have better eyesight but not as good as the human eyesight though.

This adaptation of snakes not having good eyesight is due to the fact that most snakes are nocturnal hunters. A few categories of snakes do have an ability to sense heat which compensates their poor eyesight and to brilliant effect i must say. This ability maps the whole surrounding.

It looks something like this.

Morgan Seemann

Votes: 965

Can I see your snake?

Absolutely! Here’s a bunch of pics of my baby Snekerdoodle, she’s a western hognose and super sweet 😀

right after shed ^ so bright!

she doesn’t mind being out while in shed either

slurpin some water


sleeve beeb

baby in a box

and finally, a professional closeup!

Krishnaa B Venkatesan

Votes: 9531

Are dogs colourblind?

Aren’t you? This is an interesting example of how humans perceive themselves to be at the apex of anything. So most of the ‘standards’ we form are with humans at the top. It makes sense most of the time, but is not so fair. ( that’s what I think anyway)

Color blindness is just a relative term. It does not mean that vision is monochromatic. (at least not always!). So, relative to many birds (which can see into the near end of ultra violet spectrum or snakes which can see into the near end of infra red spectrum) we are color blind.

This is what a human sees.

And this is what dogs see.

what bulls see

Sahaj Ramachandran

Votes: 8771

Are snakes blind?

Are you speaking about visual blindness? If that’s the case, the vision of different snakes vary with the species. Although snakes do possess cones in their eyes (retinas) to perceive color, their range is not as varied compared to humans. The King cobra is one of the species that has the best vision among its kind.

As long as the perception of the environment is concerned, snakes are only worried mostly about finding and tracking prey, and also to avoid being killed by its enemies. Although their eyes aren’t their best feature, they do have other senses that allow them to see better than thei

Reo Maynard

Votes: 1343

Can snakes see things that humans can’t?

Pit vipers are able to “see” infrared thanks to specialized pits on their faces.

I read this somewhere long ago. It’s been awhile since I’ve read up on them, so any herpetologists (?) out there can correct me?

I can certainly feel heat (infrared) on my skin, although the resolution is generalized.

Now that I think about it,…

Anna Chaney

Votes: 6394

Do colorful snakes exist?

I guess the answer depends on what your definition of colorful is, but my answer is yes.

A quick image search on Google brings these beauties

The regular old corn snake

The rainbow boa

The incredible San Francisco Garter Snake

The Eyelash Viper

The Malayan Coral Snake

Cooks Tree Boa

The crazy looking Ituri Forest Rhino Viper

The Sinaloan Milk Snake

Wagler’s Temple Viper

The Green Mamba

The amazing Sunbeam Snake

The stunning Copperhead

The lovely Eastern Indigo Snake

The Speckled Racer

The Mangshan Mountain Viper

The Long-tailed Rattle Snake

The adorable Kenyan Sand Boa

The African Bush Viper

Jerdon’s Pit Viper


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