EASTERN CORAL SNAKE


Scientific name: Micrurus fulvius

Size

The average size of mature Eastern Coral Snakes is 2 to 3 feet in length. They can grow much larger, with a current record of 47.5 inches, but that is rare.

Description

Eastern Coral Snakes are colorful snakes. They have rings of black, yellow, and red around their bodies. The yellow rings are very thin compared to the black and red rings. The red rings of Eastern Coral Snakes typically have some black scales and spots in them. The last several inches of the tail of the Eastern Coral Snake contains several rings of black and yellow, without the red rings. Several other snakes are colored similarly, with black, yellow, and red rings, but there is a phrase to help identify coral snakes from these other look-alikes:

Red touches yellow - kill a fellow
Red touches black - venom lack

There are several different versions of this simple rhyme, but the key to it is - if the red and yellow rings touch, it's probably a coral snake. Another quick identifying feature is that the Easter Coral Snake's head or nose is typically black. There are exceptions to this rule, but if the nose is black, it's probably a coral snake. If you are unsure what kind of snake it is, leave it alone.

Like all coral snakes, Eastern Coral Snakes have small, fixed fangs in the front of their mouth. They do not have hinged fangs like the pit vipers.

Distribution

In the United States, the Eastern Coral Snake is found in the southeastern states of Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, and South Carolina.
Map of US states the Eastern Coral Snake is found in.
Map does not show area of true distribution, only the states in which there is a population.
Actual distribution in any highlighted state may be limited.

Notes

Eastern Coral Snakes are secretive and shy snakes that are rarely seen. When they are disturbed or feel threatened, they will often hide their head under their body, coil the end of their tail tightly and then raise their tail and move it in the air in an attempt to fool an attacker into thinking the tail is actually the head.

Eastern Coral Snakes are highly venomous snakes, but bites are relatively rare. Most bites occur when a snake is stepped on, or when someone attempts to handle an Eastern Coral Snake. Some say that the mouth of Eastern Coral Snakes are so small that they can only bite fingers or loose folds of skin - this is simply not true.

Eastern Coral Snake
Photo used by permission:
© 2003 Twan Leenders

Eastern Coral Snake
Photo © 2003 David W. George

For more information on venomous snakes, please see the Venomous Links page.


Disclaimer - Terms of Use - Copyright Notice