Georgia Wildlife Web

Home Glossary Classification Conservation Status Regions of Georgia Fishes of Georgia Make a Donation

Species Description

Eastern Coral Snake

Micrurus fulvius


Species Image

Classification

Phylum: Chordata
Subphylum: Vertebrata
Class: Reptilia
Order: Squamata Suborder: Serpentes
Family: Elapidae

Description

Entirely banded in red, black, and yellow, the bands continuing onto the belly. The red bands are generally spotted with black. The average adult Eastern Coral Snake ranges in size from 51 - 76 cm (20.1 - 29.9 in) in length. The Eastern Coral Snake is a moderately slender snake. The eyes are small and the scales are smooth.

Life Cycle

Mating occurs in the spring and possibly the fall. From 2 -13 elongate eggs are laid in underground cavities and beneath logs or other ground cover from May to July. The young hatch in 70 to 90 days, generally in August or September.

Natural History

The Eastern Coral Snake is very secretive and is not frequently observed because of its semi-fossorial habits. It remains hidden beneath leaf litter, logs, or other cover on the forest floor most of the time. This snake can occasionally be found prowling on the surface in the morning and late afternoon in the spring and fall. Principal foods of the Coral Snake are other small snakes and lizards. Preferred habitat is dry, open pine flatwoods, pine-turkey oak forest, and hardwood hammocks. This snake has potent venom. Its small mouth and relatively short fangs make it difficult for the Eastern Coral Snake to bite large parts of human anatomy, but fingers and toes can be vulnerable targets.

Range

Eastern Coral Snake Region Map The Eastern Coral Snake ranges from southern North Carolina to Eastern Louisiana in the coastal plains, including the lower Coastal Plain of Georgia.

Conservation Status

The Eastern Coral Snake is an uncommon species within its range.

Similar Species

One form of the harmless milk snake called the Scarlet Kingsnake occurs within the range of the venomous Coral Snake. Several adages have arisen to avoid confusing these two species. One is "Red touch black, venom lack; red touch yellow kill a fellow."