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The Coral Snake - the Most Deadly Snake in the United States

The Coral Snake


Coral Snakes

Now there are exactly seventy six species of coral snake in this world, and exactly eleven of those species of coral snake are totally non American native snakes, or Old World snakes, if you please, and so I won't be discussing them. It's not that I think that they are less important, it's that I'm less likely to ever see one. For the record, I've never seen a coral snake anywhere at all so far as I recall, and that includes any and every zoo that I've ever had the pleasure of visiting too.

If I did happen to see a coral snake this very day while I'm doing this and that outside here at the Shaw family farm, then I'd maybe run and grab a camera and hope to be able to get back and get a photo before the coral snake slithered away. I'd not even think about grabbing one of my shotguns - I'll save the shotguns for the pit vipers, or even the less than wise king snakes and chicken snakes that have their minds set on the Dad's chickens.

Though the coral snake is extremely deadly and has a far more powerful venom than does the rattle snakes, the water moccasins and the copperheads, the three snakes that I just mentioned get free ventilation at the expense of a twenty gauge shotgun shell for a great bargain just by being too close to our house. The coral snakes, however, with their super venom, get photographed.

Cemophora coccinea - The Scarlet Snake NOT A Coral Snake


The Coral Snake - NON Aggressive and Shy

Everyone's heard that there are no snakes in Ireland. That's entirely true, but there is a very deadly snake that lives in Britain, the British adder. The thing about the British adder is that it's pretty for a snake, and also that it absolutely has no inkling why anyone would bother it so much as to cause it to feel as though it's deadly bite were in order for self preservation. The British adder is unlike other adders - as most adders are very aggressive.

Think of the American coral snake as a kindred slithering spirit to the British adder. Neither one of those snakes ever want to bite you, oh human, and both of them are rather colourful.

Coral snakes inhabit places that humans do not, and besides that, they want you to leave whilst at the same time preferring to leave themselves first when they see you. Coral snakes truly hope that you get the idea, and leave the area too. There are typically under twenty coral snake bites in the USA per year. These snakes are small compared to pit vipers, and their fangs are also small. The coral snake can't pierce the jeans of persons dumb enough to get bit by one very often, but if they do pierce the skin of someone, it's not very painful - but this is deceptive, as you will almost certainly be dying and dead in only an hour or so. Respiratory failure will be your ticket out of this world for playing with a coral snake, and due to the Food and Drug Administration caring so very little for your life, there is currently NO MORE ANTI VENOM in the USA for treating a coral snake bite. Do you believe that? It's true.

You see, the coral snake is NOT a pit viper, so the Cro Fab anti venom that will save the life of a person bit by a rattlesnake or a water moccasin will not work for coral snake bites. The pit viper bite is extremely painful, and that was your first clue that they were different toxins, except that we've already discussed how the coral snake is not a pit viper. If a coral snake bites you in the Americas, you're just dead, get over it, you've about one to two hours to say your prayers, or otherwise do what you need to do.

Coral Snake Colouration

Black on Yellow Will Kill A Fellow

Red On Black Is A Friend Of Jack!

Little sing song rhymes abound in this world, and often they presume to be truth when they are only dangerous fairy tales. A very notable exception to the dangerous fairy tale variety of these is what I've shown in bold italics above. That little rhyme up there can and will not only possibly save the life of the reader or a reader's friend and/or family, but also the life of another sort of friend, the spineless friend that is a King Snake, and King Snakes do not one single solitary thing that humans don't benefit from. Though the coral snake is a snake that seeks to do no harm to humans that aren't bothering it, the king snakes of this world eat coral snakes just the same, as king snakes....just really seem to be working for us. King snakes are totally our friends. If I had one here with me right now, I might freaking kiss the thing on the mouth.

A Texas Coral Snake


The Coral Snake Anti Venom Fiasco

Where Do Coral Snakes Live?

Coral snakes spend the majority of their lives completely out of the sight of the rest of us, they prefer to spend their time under large piles of debris such as a big pile of leaves and tree limbs, there are some species of coral snakes, however, that spend almost their entire lives in swamp like environments consisting of low water and lots of vegetation that penetrates the surface.

Gardening comes to mind as an activity when someone could possibly come into the very undesired and accidental contact with these snakes, as they like to stay under cover of leaves, and if you do as I do, and fill your garden with leaves, then you should get the idea. I think I just convinced myself to ...um, be scared of raking leaves and putting them into the garden. One bit of a positive here is that coral snakes often dry bite humans, and a dry bite, of course, is a bite where no venom is injected. We've already discussed, but it's well worth another mention, how under the Obama administration and the Monsanto lawyer that heads the FDA, the fools have allowed all stocks of coral snake anti venom to expire, so a coral snake bite is an absolute fatality if venom is injected. Coral snakes, however, don't care about Obama and his Monsanto lawyer running one of the most corrupt administrations in America - coral snakes prefer to inject their venom into smaller snakes, frogs, mice, and birds, and then eat them.

Coral Snakes and the Snakes which Look Like Them

© 2012 Wesman Todd Shaw


Wesman Todd Shaw (author) from Kaufman, Texas on March 23, 2013:

Sidney - that was the absolute truth at the time when this was published. I'd have to check to see if it is still true, and I bet that it is.

On the upside....it's not painful even...just a peaceful shut down and good bye.

Sidney on March 23, 2013:

No anti-snake venom available in the Americas? What? This is crazy. So you`re dead, say your prayers, say goodbye to your love ones, cause she`s good night Irene. Seriously? Wow.

Wesman Todd Shaw (author) from Kaufman, Texas on April 21, 2012:

Thanks very much Sir! I love to see them from safe distances, and read about them on the web!!!!!!!!!!

TheRandomPages from The United States of America on April 21, 2012:

Nice hub. I love snakes, they are beautiful creatures.

Wesman Todd Shaw (author) from Kaufman, Texas on March 06, 2012:

rabass - sounds like someone owes you THEIR LIFE to me!!!!!!!

Holy smoke!!!

I hate the rattlers, I want to never see one in the wild, and if I do, I'm likely to kill it straight away.

I've seen them in glass enclosures, and you can tell from looking at them they've every intention to kill you if they get the chance.

rabass on March 06, 2012:

We ran into one of these on a deer lease in Panola Co., Tx. The guys thought it was a milk snake, til I recited the rhyme to them. Needless to say they dropped it real quick then. We also saw timber and pygmy rattlers on that lease

Wesman Todd Shaw (author) from Kaufman, Texas on February 21, 2012:

Hey thanks a lot, Jellygator!!!!! I'd imagine that on reddit this link is getting panned left and right for me having said the truth of the matter concerning Obama's FDA and the Coral Snake's anti venom.

I'm pretty fascinated by all kinds of animals - reptiles included!!!

I'd love to see a coral snake...just not in a bad situation! Just give me three steps, Mister!!!

jellygator from USA on February 21, 2012:

I love reptiles - and snakes are among the coolest ever. Found you on reddit/r/thehubhub and voted you this one up well.

Wesman Todd Shaw (author) from Kaufman, Texas on February 16, 2012:

Thanks very much, Sue Swan!!!! Are you more in the neighbourhood where snow monsters and such come out to dance under the moonlight?

I'll envy you all during the Summer1

Sueswan on February 14, 2012:

Hi Wes

Glad the coral snake doesn't live in my neck of the woods.

Voted up and awesome

Wesman Todd Shaw (author) from Kaufman, Texas on February 11, 2012:

I think so, Mandy, but there also are some in places like Florida, and the entire Gulf Of Mexico bordering states.

Most folks never see one, and they aren't aggressive like water moccasins or rattle snakes are.

mandymoreno81 on February 11, 2012:

So what states are these coral snakes found in? Judging by the pictures the southwest?

Wesman Todd Shaw (author) from Kaufman, Texas on February 11, 2012:

Hey Dusty!!!!!!!!!

The thought of you as a youngster doing such deeds ...isn't surprising at all, but is cheerful just the same!

I'd half bet your old man was a similar sort.

Oh I love the wildlife stuffs, but I doubt it's making me much money here. I just tend to think I probably ought to continue on with it some more though, but of course I've got other stuff to talk about too.

Wesman Todd Shaw (author) from Kaufman, Texas on February 10, 2012:

Hey Sis!!! That's a hilarious comment!!! I'm thinking that maybe sometimes an old peer and beam home might have those snakes underneath them????

That terrifies me, really, as I've had to crawl under many a trailer home, and many a peer and beam home to repair things.

Wesman Todd Shaw (author) from Kaufman, Texas on February 10, 2012:

AliciaC - Thanks very much!!!!

Don't forget that there are eleven species of "old world" coral snakes!!!! But I'd imagine that the Europeans, as usual, have provided better health care for themselves than we extremely idiotic war mongering and self righteous Americans.

Wesman Todd Shaw (author) from Kaufman, Texas on February 10, 2012:

Seeker7, absolutely! The smallish but dangerous pit viper called the copperhead also does a dry bite very often.

I think that what happens is that when one of those snakes, the copperhead or the coral snake - can identify that someone or something isn't something that it can eat, then it doesn't actually want to waste it's venom on such things...such as people.

So they'll bite and not inject...hoping that you, or whoever is bitten, will receive a clear message...and that message is "leave me alone."

I'm not sure if rattlesnakes or water moccasins are capable of the dry bite or not...or perhaps they're just "mean?"

I'll have to research that one a bit whenever I get my own computer back.

Lela from Somewhere near the heart of Texas on February 10, 2012:

Wow, those coral snakes must have a super potent venom! Bob killed some on our property a couple of years ago. Since I have dogs, I'm kind of glad he did. I knew they were deadly, but I had no idea how deadly! Thanks for letting me know.

Wesman Todd Shaw (author) from Kaufman, Texas on February 10, 2012:

Hey Austinstar!!! I've tore up my own computer by being a bit of a fool...again. If I wasn't just now on my Mother's old and slow laptop....I'd find out exactly about that..but going from memory, I believe the Wikipedia page on coral snakes said that it took "massive amounts of anti venom" and an extended period of being hooked up to the breathing machine for someone to recover from a coral snake bite...I think that is correct.

Wesman Todd Shaw (author) from Kaufman, Texas on February 10, 2012:

Hey CMHypno!!! I'm pretty fascinated by the wildlife of the British Islands!!!

I'll probably never be done writing on Hubpages, and so the very pretty British adder will probably wind up with it's own page...I hope to be able to do it justice.

I've seen some pretty good websites about British wildlife - I'm especially interested in reintroduction of wolves there.

Wesman Todd Shaw (author) from Kaufman, Texas on February 10, 2012:

Hey Christopher - I totally agree, the thing with the water moccasins and copperheads that we sometimes see here at the Shaw place....is that my parents are likely to have small children or elderly people here at any time, and as I must be a responsible person in regards to anyone in my domain's safety....I must kill the pit vipers that I encounter.

I don't have a phone to call 911 with, and I don't have a car to take anyone to the hospital. It's death to the venomous vipers on the Shaw property if I see one.

If I'm fishing or something - hey, I well know that I'm not on my turf in such encounters.

50 Caliber on February 09, 2012:

Wesman, a great topic of the perty lil snake. I've had chance to see many species of Arizona of all critters that run loose in the sands and the scope of the mountain ranges.

The only reason I have not snuffed a very pretty coral snake is it's size. Too small to eat and not enough hide to tan and sell as well Arizona, more than likely has a law against killing them. My Dad had a boot in my ass for killing things he told me not to. I don't remember the why but I remember the boot and it had nothing to do with this snake, but the chicken snake I put in Mrs. Prices desk drawer that a couple trouble makers and myself waited patiently for her to find and the show that was to begin. The snake had other ideas and came out the back of the center drawer and was hanging toward the floor when I saw it and shortly dropped onto the waxed hard tile floor and was having traction trouble as he tried to get out amid the screaming girls and the calm Mrs. Price asked who ever the owner of this snake is, would they come get it and put it out in the grass out side. I looked for my buddies and along with a good portion of the boys were pointing at me. It would seem you can't trust secrets to "friends" 'cuz they told on boy each and then every boy who didn't have cooties, like the girls, were waiting for my hind end tanning in front of the class. As a kid I believed there was nothing wrong with what I did unless I got caught.

Use your imagination here as to the paddling and the "when Dad found out". Never ever, not ever never trust anyone with a secret, as there are no secrets, I defer to the teachings of the Christ, "everything whispered in the dark or done in the dark will be exposed in the light and shouted from the roof tops" and this was proven that day as truth.

Back to snakes and bites, I have studied the bite pattern of snakes and how they get it done. A Rattlesnake for instance can and will unhinge it's jaw and enable it's self to strike and hang it's curved fangs into the flat of your back or other large areas like a horses side or belly.

The coral snake has the ability to unhinge for the purpose of swallowing it's prey if need be. They do not have fangs, but rows of teeth that like a constrictor grab hold of the prey. I had a Boa constrictor that would get out and go cruising about the house and I was watching TV and Tiny[12ft approx. length, heck you try to measure one] I was sitting on the couch and doing what nervous people do, pumping the heel of my right foot up and down and bam the snake bit in a strike from the rear and attempted the follow up of coiling about what it thought to be a small target and shoving the coffee table out and dragging him out to get him loose he immediately let go when he realized he had bit the dude that gave him the furry and slippery diet of either frogs or rats......

Back to the Coral as it was told me by a self described snake guru and walking encyclopedia, I normally get turned off by know it alls, but he had so far made much sense that reinforced what I thought I knew and brought up topics I ha seen play out. The first was 97 percent of snake bites occur by people who are ignorantly getting in range of a strike while pissing the snake off[I took that to mean stupid idiots] and as we looked at the species at "The Arizona Desert Museum" he answered my question about the small snake they had that was the Coral snake of the western area and that was the how of the bite, as it was fang-less, best I could tell by holding one right behind the head looking for fangs to stick through a rubber covered jar and milk and finding none. He explained pretty much verbatim the article in PM that you provided, he added "the small size of the snakes mouth would allow it to bite the webs between our fingers to be able to break skin with their rough saw like teeth Allowing it's venom to get in your system, but they indeed have small fangs in the front of their mouth" that said he went to rule number one that "only idiots messing with and handling the coral snake get bit" wiki talks of old world and new world breeds and says Texas, Arizona, and east of the Mississippi have different breeds, that includes a water living breed with flat tail for swimming.

Great hub Bro' voted you up all the way sans funny, on a topic I like to read and learn about and you certainly delivered with this one. I don't play with snakes, I do use a long tube with a noose to catch them and put them in sacks to put in my freezer as not to damage what the companies that make souvenirs for the snowbirds to take back to the north during summer, when they flee from the heat only to return as winter sets in and they flee from the snow, must be nice to have that option.



Angela Blair from Central Texas on February 07, 2012:

Many years ago my business partner found a coral snake along the baseboard in her hallway in the middle of the night. They lived in the heart of Dallas. As you say, they are shy and rare but at the time I don't think she cared. Her husband killed it, they took it to the zoo to get it identified and nearly died when they found out what they had. There was never an explanation as to how the snake turned up in her house and they never saw another one. I think I'd have moved or just given the snake the key to the house and left. They are absolutely gorgeous colors and if snakes can be pretty the coral snake is -- but it's still a snake and one doesn't have to bite me -- I'll kill myself getting away from it. Great Hub -- enjoyed it. Best/Sis

Linda Crampton from British Columbia, Canada on February 07, 2012:

I didn't know that there is currently no anti-venom in the United States for a coral snake bite - that's a terrifying thought! I grew up in Britain and loved to explore the countryside, but I never saw an adder. I was glad to read that the coral snake is a kindred spirit to the adder! Thanks for the useful and interesting information, Wesman.

Helen Murphy Howell from Fife, Scotland on February 07, 2012:

Another fabulous hub Wes and what beautiful reptiles these are! The Coral Snake is certainly a beauty and the colours are stunning. I also liked the scarlet and the king snake - very beautiful markings and colours.

The wee British adder has in the past had a bad name - along with all sorts of silly superstitions and legends that made folks kill them on site. It's rare to see these tiny little snakes and even rarer to be bitten by one - they are apparently masters of escaping into tiny cracks and holes in order to get away from folks. They are very, very shy and placid. Most of the bites are because of dumbos trying to pick them up! They definitely are pretty little snakes. I saw one at an RSPCA rescue centre when I was at school - it had got stranded by flooding - and the colours and the black zigzags were amazing.

A dry bite? Now I've heard of snakes doing that, but how does that actually work? Do they use their fangs but don't pump venom or do they not use their fangs at all when it is a dry bite? I find this really interesting!

This was a great hub with stunning photos and video. Definitely deserves an awesomeo vote up!!

Lela from Somewhere near the heart of Texas on February 07, 2012:

I would think that if you got to a hospital quick enough that you could be put on respiratory support until the venom wore off or was filtered out with a plasma exchange. Breathing machines are very sophisticated these days.

Of course, avoiding the snake would be the safest course of action.

CMHypno from Other Side of the Sun on February 07, 2012:

They are certainly very striking looking snakes Wesman, and it sounds like you would probably have to work very hard to get bitten by one. Here in the UK most people have never even seen an adder, and as long as you don't go walking through long grass with bare feet and legs you won't get bitten anyway. The very few casualties usually come from a horse disturbing an adder, being a bitten and then throwing their rider and injuring them.

Christopher Antony Meade from Gillingham Kent. United Kingdom on February 07, 2012:

My opinion on snakes, and any other animal, is that they are all God's creatures. I would need a very good reason for killing any of them.

Mind you, I would memorise that rhyme before going anywhere near where I might meet a snake.

Wesman Todd Shaw (author) from Kaufman, Texas on February 06, 2012:

onthegrind - they're sort of hard to love. I'm truly into leaving them alone, as I don't much enjoy killing things at all.

I will kill a pit viper that's too close to the home any day of the week though.

onthegrind from Florida, United States on February 06, 2012:

Not a friend of snakes myself. Good information in there. Coral snakes are scary.

Wesman Todd Shaw (author) from Kaufman, Texas on February 06, 2012:

I know that's right, Laura Ginn!!!! I don't much care for snakes either. Especially the venomous ones.

I might enjoy having a king snake around...but it would wind up after the Dad's chickens, and then full of bullet holes...so no snakes for me either!

Laura Ginn from UK on February 06, 2012:

Ooh I wouldn't go near a British adder or a coral snake! They freak me out so bad! Great hub though :)

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