Eastern Coral Snake

Eastern Coral Snake



Coral Snake
Coral Snake vs King Snake image




The Eastern Coral Snake is about 18-30 inches with some reaching up to 4 feet in length.  It is one of the most deadly snakes in North America, but sightings are not frequent and it is rare that they attack. It is 1 of 4 venomous snakes that can be found in Central Florida. Unlike the pit vipers (Rattlesnake, Cottonmouth and Pygmy found in Central FL) the Coral Snake is a member of the Elapidae, which also has Cobras, Mambas, and Sea Snakes included. They have short, fixed fangs well forward in the mouth, rather than fangs that eject downward where the venom comes out of the fangs. The Coral has venom sacks located in the space next to their teeth. When it bites and creates a wound, the venom seeps in to the wound from the sacks next to the teeth. The longer the snake holds on, then more venom will go into the wound.

Coral snake on a rocky area.


They can be found in random southern coastal plain areas from North Carolina over  to Louisana and down southward into the entire the state of Florida, where they are most common. They enjoy scrub oak sandhills but sometimes inhabit hardwood areas and pine flatwoods that have had seasonal flooding.



Coral snakes are very rarely ever seen. They spend most of their time underground. They are most active at night, mornings, or during rainy days. The snake’s venom is primarily neuro-toxic, attacking the central nervous system. Symptoms may be a sore throat and ptosis, which is the inability to keep the eyes open. Failure of the nerves to communicate will eventually cause respiratory and cardiac failure. These effects are not instantaneous however, and many people who have been bitten will not experience side effects until twelve hours later. Thankfully, there have been no reported deaths from Coral Snake venom since the early ’60s when the antivenom was created. This fact along with the nature of the coral snake’s being so reclusive means that it is more likely that you would get hit by lightning than bitten by this snake.

Shiny coral species in captivity.


There are several other snakes that have similar colors but a different banding pattern.  In any case, it is always best to STAY AWAY!! While the colors may be the same, the pattern is not. First of all remember– red against black, your ok Jack. Red against yellow you are a dead fellow. It is further helpful to think of it this way– Consider a traffic light and its colors. If the warning colors- red(stop) and yellow (caution) are together and (touch) it IS the venomous Coral snake. The alternate band on the Coral is YELLOW assuring contact between the red and yellow bands. The alternate band on the other snakes which are only “mimics” is black preventing contact between the warning colors. Two warning colors adjacent equals a venomous predator.