|Size:||Length: 2 to 4 feet (61 to 122 cm)|
|Diet:||Other snakes, birds, frogs, fish, insects and lizards|
|Young:||5 to 7 eggs|
|IUCN Status:||No special status|
|Terms:||No special terms|
|Lifespan:||Captive coral snakes live up to seven years|
· Coral snakes are the only venomous snakes in North America to lay eggs.
· Several species of harmless snakes mimic coral snakes in colour and pattern to discourage predators.
· The eastern coral snake is also known as the harlequin snake.
· Coral snakes belong to the same family as cobras and mambas.
Coral snakes are highly venomous snakes marked with red, black and yellow stripes. They are often confused with harmless snakes that have similar stripes—most coral imitators (milk snakes) have black stripes in between the red and the yellow. A good rule to remember in most cases is the rhyme, “Red touching yellow, dangerous fellow.” The organ pipe shovel-nosed snake is one exception to this rule, but it is still possible to tell them apart—coral snakes have a black snout followed by a yellow stripe, while the organ pipe has a yellow snout followed by a black stripe.
Eastern coral snakes can be found in the United States from North Carolina, south to Florida and as far west as Texas. They can also be found in northeastern Mexico. Other species of coral snakes are found in western North America, Central America and South America. Eastern coral snakes can usually be found in woodlands.
Corals eat other snakes (including other coral snakes), birds, frogs, fish, insects and lizards, killing them with their venom.
Approximately 35 days after mating, from late spring to early summer, coral snakes lay their eggs. The eggs hatch two months later. At birth, the young snakes already have the colourful markings of their parents.
Coral snakes are venomous but are not known to attack humans in the wild—they are far more likely to scurry away when someone approaches. They spend much of their time under loose soil, leaves, rocks or fallen trees. When threatened, coral snakes will flatten their bodies to look larger and swing their tail in the air to confuse predators as to at which end their head is located. Most bites occur when captive snakes are handled improperly or when wild snakes are grabbed or restrained (usually by children who are attracted to their vibrant colours). Untreated bites have a 10 percent fatality rate and death will occur in approximately 24 hours. People sometimes do not get treatment because the bite seems small, and at first, the victim will only experience a small amount of pain and swelling.
Coral snakes are not of conservation concern.
Coral Snake Wildlife Fact File, IM Pub, US