Of all the venomous snakes that could harm a human, the coral snake is high on the list. This breed has a bite even more ‘poisonous’ than the much-feared rattlesnake, but it’s not as aggressive.
The venom of a coral snake can kill a human, but fatalities are extremely rare. An antivenin has prevented any fatalities for over 50 years. The coral snake’s fangs are tiny, and this makes it difficult to puncture the skin. Coral snakes are timid, preferring to avoid any confrontation with large predators.
None of this changes the fact that corals are a highly venomous species of snake. You need to know how to identify coral snakes in the wild and must try to avoid them completely. If you come into contact with this type of snake, just give it some time and space to get away.
How Do I Identify a Coral Snake?
A typical coral snake is around 2 feet in length, and very brightly colored. Coral snakes usually feature bands and hoops of black, yellow, and red all over their back.
They are often found hiding in piles of leaves or burrowing through the mud. This means that you need to be careful, as a coral snake loves to stay out of sight.
Where Would I Find a Coral Snake?
The natural habitat of these reptiles is marshland or the forest. However, as they love to burrow, they may also be found in any dry and sandy territory.
The following states are the most likely to have coral snakes:
- North and South Carolina
However, this is not an exhaustive list – coral snakes could be found anywhere. If you encounter a snake and are not sure of their breed, you should leave them well alone.
How Venomous are Coral Snakes?
The coral snake is the second most venomous snake in the world. Only the black mamba is more lethal. The good news is that there is an antivenin that counteracts the poison. Here is some advice on how to tell if a snake is venomous.
Also, it’s hard for a coral snake to bite a human. They have tiny fangs, which are located at the very rear of their mouths.
Being bitten by a coral snake is a nasty experience. The venom found in the fangs is fast-acting and can be fatal. Before death, somebody bitten by a coral snake may also become paralyzed and enter cardiac arrest.
Are There Any Non-Venomous Coral Snakes?
No, all coral snakes are venomous. However, Some other breeds of snake have similar markings as a defense mechanism. Kingsnakes and milk snakes, which are not poisonous, make wonderful pets.
Look at the bands of a reptile to understand if it’s a coral snake or a non-venomous snake that is mistaken for a coral snake. The venomous coral snake will have the red bands on their scales beside yellow. Others breeds of snake have the red bands beside their black.
This is summarized in a popular rhyme among snake enthusiasts, used to remind them which breeds are venomous: “Red and yellow can kill a fellow, Red and black is a friend of Jack.”
Are Coral Snakes Aggressive?
Despite being hugely venomous, coral snakes are reluctant to bite a human. They are a shy and fearful breed of snake, and if left alone they will never initiate an attack.
Most coral snake bites arise from somebody picking them up, and the snake reacting with fear. If you leave a coral snake to their own devices, you will have nothing to fear.
How Do Coral Snakes Inject Venom?
A coral snake has small fangs at the back of their mouths. This means that they cannot always strike quickly, like a cobra. If they are allowed to chew, they can inject a tremendous amount of venom.
They are not constrictors, so they must use venom to kill their prey. Favorite foods of the coral snake include rats, mice, small snakes, and reptiles.
What to Do if a Coral Snake Bites You
If a coral snake has bitten you, it’s an emergency. As National Geographic explains, there is no swelling or even pain. All the same, it must be taken seriously.
Call for an ambulance straight away or ask somebody to drive you to the ER. The sooner you get to a hospital, the sooner you will be provided with the essential antivenom.
Expect to stay in the hospital for around 48 hours following admission. It may be longer if you delay getting to the hospital and experience side effects.
While you are waiting to treat your snakebite, you should follow these first aid steps:
- Leave the snake alone. They will probably flee after biting. If you try to exact revenge, you’ll just get bitten again.
- Stay calm. Coral snake venom impacts upon respiratory function, and panic will make it even harder to breathe.
- Lower the wound below your heart.
- Bandage the puncture Do not use a tourniquet, or apply too much pressure.
- Do not attempt to remove the venom yourself. Likewise, do not allow anybody else to do so. This is just sharing the toxin around.
As long as you act quickly and seek medical attention straight away, you should be fine.
Can a Coral Snake Kill You?
A coral snake’s bite is hugely dangerous. If their fangs penetrate human skin, the potency of their venom will have a negative impact. This could, eventually, lead to death.
The good news is that an antivenin was developed in 1967. As a result, no fatalities have been recorded as a result of a coral snake bite since that date.
That doesn’t mean that you should be flippant about handling these reptiles. If untreated, a coral snake’s bite can kill you. If the worst should happen, you should seek medical attention immediately. If you act fast enough, you should make a full recovery.
How Long Will I Live if Bitten by a Coral Snake?
If you do not seek help within twelve hours of being bitten, your life could be in jeopardy. This may be sooner, depending on your metabolism.
The symptoms of a bite from a coral snake are:
- Muscle weakness leading to eventual paralysis.
- Trouble breathing.
- Swollen tongue leading to difficulty speaking or swallowing.
- Blurred vision.
If you recognize any of these symptoms after a coral snake encounter, time is of the essence. Even if they appear minor at first, things can escalate quickly.
A bite from this reptile can quickly lead to paralysis, and possibly a fatal heart attack. Ultimately, coral snakes are lethal animals and need to be taken seriously as a threat.
What are Coral Snakes’ Natural Predators?
Birds of prey are the primary hunters of coral snakes in the wild. Mongooses, foxes, skunks, and raccoons may also eat a coral snake.
Do Coral Snakes Make Good Pets?
Coral snakes need to be treated with extreme care. Only the most experienced snake handler should attempt to domesticize this breed.
If you do decide to keep a coral snake as a pet, follow the following steps:
- Warn any friend of the family that the snake is venomous.
- Coral snakes are nocturnal and private. Do not force them to interact when they prefer to be left alone.
- Do not handle your coral snake excessively, and use gloves when you do so.
- Fill the terrarium with leaves, gravel, vegetation, logs, climbing trees, and other things that mask the snake’s natural habitat. Remember, these snakes love to burrow and hide.
- Keep the snake in a terrarium no smaller than 100 x 60 x 90 cm.
- Allow at least 10-12 hours of light, but ensure the habitat is dark at night.
- Keep the temperature between 25 and 32O.
- Provide a drinking fountain.
Perhaps most importantly of all – keep the terrarium entirely secure. Coral snakes are particularly adept at escaping and will find even the smallest hole.
The last thing you need is a highly poisonous reptile loose. Allowing the snake to roam your home is dangerous. Letting it escape the house is even worse.
Coral snakes are very complicated reptiles, and they require constant attention. As a paradox, however, they are nervous and not particularly social.
Also, venomous snakes are not suitable pets. Do not bring one into your home unless you are a skill and experienced snake owner.
Coral snakes are a curious addition to this reptile family. They are dangerous due to the sheer amount of venom found in their fangs. However, they are also jittery and skittish, preferring to keep themselves to themselves.
If you encounter a coral snake in the wild, do not attempt to pick it up. This will likely result in a bite, whereas the snake would ordinarily leave you alone. If you do find yourself bitten, stay calm and seek help from the closest ER.
Overall, a live and let live policy is best observed with coral snakes. These shy and nervous snakes will not seek you out. If you leave them alone, they will do the same.