Outdoors blog


7 Things to know about Coral Snakes (5 Pictures)

Coral snakes are dwarf, vibrant, and highly venomous snakes.

They have the second-strongest venom of any snake; the black mamba has the deadliest venom.

However, they are generally considered less dangerous than rattlesnakes because coral snakes have a less effective poison-delivery system.

Coral snakes are separated into two groups: the Old World coral snakes – found in Asia – and the New World coral snakes – found in the Americas – When provoked, coral snakes will sometimes make a popping sound by expelling air from their cloaca, a single opening for the urinary, reproductive and intestinal tract, to startle the threat.

Coral Snakes are bright in color

The most distinctive physical features of coral snakes are their brightly colored and patterned bodies, short, fixed fangs, and potent venom. While just some species have elements of coral coloring, all species have eye-catching patterns and colors: red bands flanked by yellow bands. Because of the dangerous reputation of the coral snake, several nonpoisonous snakes disguise themselves as coral snakes by having the same body patterns.

Bite Hurts

On contrary to most of the other venomous snakes, the coral snake cannot contract its fangs into its mouth. Instead, they are constantly out and erect. Their fangs are relatively weak. Their venom is very toxic, no deaths from coral snake bites are reported in North America since the late 1960s when antivenin was developed. No deaths from a Western coral snake are reported in the least. Nevertheless, their bites can be extremely painful and, if left untreated, can lead to cardiac arrest. Humans are mostly bitten when trying to select a coral snake. Because of their small size, these snakes don’t carry much venom in their fangs, so that they may attempt to hold onto their victim for a few time. If you encounter one walk away.

Size and structure

The average adult size is 20 to 30 inches, 51-76 cm, the record is 47.5 inches – 121 cm. Its body is ringed with black, yellow, and red; narrow yellow rings separate the wider red and black rings. The rings continue around the belly of the snake. From the tip of snout to only behind the attention the top is black, followed by a good yellow ring. The tail is black and yellow, with none red rings. The red rings usually have black flecks and spots. The scales are smooth. The pupil is round. The color pattern of the young is the same as adults.


Coral snakes are within the Elapidae family, as are cobras, sea snakes, and black mambas. There are about 70 species of latest World coral snakes and about 15 species of Old-World coral snakes. The taxonomy of coral snakes, according to the Integrated Taxonomic Information System (ITIS) is Kingdom: Animalia, Sub-kingdom – Bilateria, Phylum: Chordata, Class: Reptilia, Family: Elapidae.


  1. Eastern coral snake

Ranging from North Carolina to Florida and Texas, this is the brightest of North American coral snakes. Its body is entirely covered in bright bands of black, red, and yellow. Narrow bright yellow rings bifurcate wider red and black rings. There is a yellow ring behind the snake’s black snout. The tail is ringed in black and yellow, with no red.

  1. Arizona Coral snake

This Southwestern North American snake has the same basic color pattern as its Eastern counterpart, though the colors are slightly muted. The yellow bands, especially, are paler and can be white, according to the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum. They are also broad than the Eastern coral snake’s yellow bands.

  1. Blue Malayan coral snake

This stunning snake lives in the jungles of Southeast Asia. Unlike its North American cousins, it does not have bands. Instead, it has a deep blue body with light blue or white stripes on each side, and a gorgeous, coral-red head and tail, according to Ecology Asia.


Coral snakes that live in forested or jungle areas spend most of their time burrowed underground or in leaf piles. They like marshy and wooded areas, but also live in the scrubby sandhills of the Southeast United States. Western coral snakes live primarily in the Sonoran Desert of Arizona and Northern Mexico. They like to live under rocks or burrow into sand or soil and are often found in the rocky areas around Saguaro cacti. Coral snakes are nocturnal and reclusive. Because of their secretive habits, they may be found in suburban areas. They spend most of their time keeping cozy in burrows or under rocks or rotting leaves. These snakes are shy and will often flee from predators.


Coral snakes eat tiny lizards and other small, soft-scaled snakes. Despite their wide distribution and differing characteristics, these snakes usually have similar diets. They have relatively small mouths, and thus, usually feed on small prey. Depending on the species, they are known to be ophiophagous, which means they feed on other snakes. They also feed on insects, small mammals, young birds, and other similar prey.


Unlike many other venomous snakes that give birth to live young, coral snakes lay eggs. They are the only venomous snakes in North America to do so. Eastern coral snakes lay six or seven eggs within the summer that hatch in early fall. Western coral snakes lay two to three eggs. Babies are born brightly colored, fully venomous, and 7 inches (17 cm) long.


There is little or no pain or swelling at the site of the bite, and other symptoms can be delayed for 12 hours. However, if untreated by antivenin, the neurotoxin begins to disrupt the connections between the brain and therefore the muscles, causing slurred speech, diplopia, and muscular paralysis, eventually ending in respiratory or cardiac failure.

In a few words, Coral snakes have extremely potent venom, but they do not account for a very high percentage of yearly snakebites. They avoid heavily populated areas and are not commonly found near human habitation. When humans do come across them, they probably don’t even realize because the snake stays well-hidden and avoids contact.