Coral Snake Vs. King Snake: Curious Difference Between Reptiles Revealed | Kidadl


Coral Snake Vs. King Snake: Curious Difference Between Reptiles Revealed

Arts & Crafts
Learn more
Reading & Writing
Learn more
Math & Logic
Learn more
Sports & Active
Learn more
Music & Dance
Learn more
Social & Community
Learn more
Mindful & Reflective
Learn more
Outdoor & Nature
Learn more
Read these Tokyo facts to learn all about the Japanese capital.

Coral snakes and scarlet kingsnakes have different patterns, despite their similar coloration.

The coral snake looks like a cross between a milk snake and a scarlet king snake; however, only the coral snake has always been venomous. Both snakes used to reside in the sandhills of North Carolina, which enabled the scarlet kingsnake to easily mimic the coral snake.

The eastern king snake, otherwise known as Lampropeltis getula, is the biggest species of king snakes. Eastern kingsnakes are typically big, measuring between 36-48 in (91.5-122 cm) in length, whereas the majority of coral snake species are tiny, with North American species averaging 3 ft (0.9 m) in length. The eastern coral snake, also known as the harlequin snake, is slightly larger than the average at around 3.3 ft (1 m) long. Phrases such as 'red on yellow, kill a fellow' are used in North America to differentiate between these snakes.

Although kingsnakes are resistant to snake venom, which allows them to eat venomous species such as rattlesnakes, they are not repellent. Kingsnakes do not hibernate and the official name for their wintertime cool-down is brumation, just like the coral snakes that brumate in their tunnels throughout the winter months. Unlike the coral snake, a kingsnake isn't necessarily dangerous for your dog or cat, but your pets still need to be careful as they can upset a king snake. Dogs and cats may be bitten if they agitate a king snake, and they could become sick despite the lack of venom.

Read along to find out about coral snakes and scarlet kingsnakes! If you liked this article, why not check out some other fun animal facts like silverback gorilla vs lion or cuttlefish vs squid.

How To Identify Coral Snakes From King Snakes

One of the most venomous snakes native to the southeastern United States is the coral snake. This snake's unique red, black, and yellow stripes make it simple to identify. Kingsnakes are nonvenomous but have the same color bands which can make it difficult to tell the difference between the two snakes.

Scarlet kingsnakes and scarlet snakes have similar red, black, yellow, or white banding like coral snakes. The best method to tell the difference between kingsnakes and coral snakes is to examine their coloring: coral snakes possess yellow and red bands that touch, but kingsnakes' have patterns of red and black, with yellow and black rings. Kingsnakes' yellow and red bands are always separated by black bars. It's obviously important to be able to identify whether you're dealing with a venomous snake or a nonvenomous snake.

There's a simple saying in North America relating to snakes, 'red and black, friend of Jack; red on yellow, kill a fellow'. If the red and black colorings come into contact, then it is the kingsnake and is not venomous. If the phrase 'red and yellow, kill a fellow' comes to mind with the red and yellow hues touching, the snake is a coral snake and is venomous. It's better not to get too close to a snake until you're completely certain what you're dealing with. You could end spending days in the hospital if you're bitten by a coral snake. Kingsnakes have long, rounded snouts like the nonvenomous Mexican black kingsnake which is a subspecies of the common kingsnake.

The body of the Mexican black kingsnake is long, smooth, and thin, with a tiny oval-shaped head that is nearly the same size as the neck. The scarlet kingsnake has a red nose, whereas the California mountain kingsnake sports a black and yellow snout. Coral snakes exhibit black snouts that are truncated, highly rounded, and blunt. Coral snakes are venomous Elapidae snakes, which also include cobras or even mambas. A coral snake bite injects neurotoxic venom into the victim, causing slurred speech, double vision, muscular paralysis, respiratory and heart failure, and death if the victim does not seek medical assistance.

Fortunately, coral snakes seldom bite humans; no eastern coral snake–related mortality has been documented in the United States since the '60s. Kingsnakes are nonvenomous snakes that are commonly kept as home pets. Coral snakes and kingsnakes are both mostly diurnal, spending the day underground in caves and crevices, as well as beneath logs and leaves. Coral snakes, on the other hand, seldom climb plants or trees, but kingsnakes are skilled climbers. Coral snakes also exhibit unusual defense behavior, swinging and moving their tails to mirror their heads in an effort to fool attackers. Such protective behavior is not displayed by kingsnakes.

Which is more venomous: coral snake or kingsnake?

Coral snakes are little, brightly colored and are a very venomous snake. They contain one of the strongest venoms of just about any snake (the black mamba has the most lethal venom), yet coral snakes are typically regarded as less hazardous than rattlesnakes, due to a less effective venom-delivery mechanism. Coral snakes' venom is extremely dangerous, although they only generate a small amount of it.

An adult coral snake may spit out 0.0003-0.0005 oz (10-15 mg) of venom, but an adult diamondback rattlesnake may spit out 0.0105-0.0141 oz (300-400 mg) or more. Because they must practically gnaw on their prey to completely inject their venom, the majority of human bites do not end in death. Since the advent of an antivenin in 1967, no deaths from coral snake bites have been documented in the United States.

Kingsnakes are medium-sized nonvenomous snakes that kill via constriction. They're one of the most prevalent snakes in the United States and while a bite can be painful, they are generally harmless to humans and other animals.

When kingsnakes are threatened, they produce a foul smell and shake their tails. This time, it's a rattlesnake that's being mimicked through Batesian mimicry. In general, once domesticated, kingsnakes are reputed to be docile and many people believe they're good animals to have as a pet.

Experts can easily distinguish between a coral snake and a harmless kingsnake.

Is a coral snake a kingsnake?

It might be difficult to tell the two snakes apart in locations where they coexist. They eat the same foods and follow the same routines and their habitats are similar. Both snakes devour lizards, amphibians, bird eggs, and even some snakes. They are both diurnal and tend to hide under leaf litter and otherwise logs throughout the day.

Scarlet kingsnakes are colubrid new world members of the genus Lampropeltis, which contains milk snakes and four other species. Coral snakes are part of the Elapidae family, which also includes cobras and other dangerous snakes. A coral snake has a blunt, blackhead that extends behind the eyes, and bands that completely around the body rather than splitting at the belly. Kingsnakes have longer snouts and may have red or yellow spots on their heads. There are some differences in coloration, bands, and color patterns.

Both snakes are fearful of people and will avoid them if possible, retreating to their habitats quickly. Given how closely related the two species appear to be, the two snakes are commonly mixed up but there are clear differences. There is a clear distinction in how they protect themselves. If you startle a kingsnake, it will most likely rattle its tail in an attempt to frighten you away. A coral snake, on the other hand, will shake its head and tail side to side.

This is a strategy for perplexing predators about which end is the head. When a kingsnake bites, it usually releases the bite immediately. To inject its venom, a coral snake will gnaw on you. The size of the snakes is also a significant determinant.

Are coral snakes aggressive?

If you come across a deadly coral snake in your yard, don't ignore it. To guarantee that no one is harmed, the snake must be removed.

Given a coral snake is a highly venomous snake, it's a good idea to get the snake removed professionally by contacting animal control, local police, or even fire departments in some places.

Tim Cole, a herpetologist who operates the Austin Reptile Service and gives instructional presentations on snakes of various types, says that coral snakes aren't hazardous as they won't attack you in the wild as rattlers will. They are fearful snakes who will try to flee from you. Coral snakes like kingsnakes are neither aggressive nor inclined to bite unless provoked, and they account for less than 1% of all snake bites in the United States.

Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly facts for everyone to enjoy! If you liked our coral snake Vs kingsnake article why not take a look at do wasps hibernate?, interesting hornets hibernation facts for kids, or egret vs heron: the difference between these white birds explained.

Written By
Supriya Jain

<p>As a skilled member of the Kidadl team, Shruti brings extensive experience and expertise in professional content writing. With a Bachelor's degree in Commerce from Punjab University and an MBA in Business Administration from IMT Nagpur, Shruti has worked in diverse roles such as sales intern, content writer, executive trainee, and business development consultant. Her exceptional writing skills cover a wide range of areas, including SOP, SEO, B2B/B2C, and academic content.</p>

Read The Disclaimer

Was this article helpful?