Tags: North America, elapid, reptile, snake, venomous snake
Coral snakes have red, yellow, and black bands on their long narrow bodies. By LA Dawson
Coral snakes have hollow teeth called fangs that they use to inject poison into their victims. Their bright red, yellow, and black stripes warn other animals that coral snakes are poisonous.
People don’t see coral snakes very often because the snakes spend most of the time underground. If you see a coral snake, leave it alone! It will not bite you unless you bother it.
Coral snakes eat other small snakes and lizards as well as frogs, birds, insects, and sometimes fish. After a coral snake bites an animal and injects poison into it, the snake waits for the animal to die. Coral snakes don’t chew their food. They swallow it whole, and a dead animal is easier to swallow than a living animal.
Some other species of snakes, like milk snakes, king snakes, and scarlet snakes, have colors on their bodies that make them look a lot like coral snakes. These other species are not poisonous. People think that these harmless snakes try to fool other animals into thinking they are poisonous by having the same colors as coral snakes.
This map shows the areas where different coral snakes live in the United States. By Howard Morland
This harmless milk snake looks a lot like a coral snake. Can you tell the difference? On this snake, the red bands touch black bands. On the coral snake, the red bands touch yellow bands. By Mike Pingleton
The above links plus:
Green, Jen. Amazing Animal Hunters: Snakes. Mankato, MN: Amicus, 2011.
Love, Carrie and Caroline Stamps, ed. Animals: A Children’s Encyclopedia. New York: DK Publishing, 2008. Pp. 168-173.
Royston, Angela. Living Nature: Reptiles. North Mankato, MN: Chrysalis Education, 2003.