Are Coral Snakes Venomous Or Poisonous?

Are Coral Snakes Venomous?

If you ask people what they are most scared of one of the most common answers is snakes. People all over the world have been scared of snakes for centuries. Sometimes for good reason seeing as how many snakes are venomous and pose a serious and life-threatening risk to humans. For those reasons being able to spot a venomous snake from a non-venomous snake is important. So in this article, we are going to discuss a snake that people often get confused about. Moreover, we are going to discuss whether or not coral snakes are venomous.

Coral snakes are venomous. In fact, not only are coral snakes venomous, but their venom is actually the second most potent out of all snakes. The only snake that has stronger venom than the coral snake is the black mamba. That would actually mean that the coral snake has the strongest venom out of every snake in the United States. 

Coral snakes are very venomous but they often get confused with other snakes that look very similar to them. Most commonly coral snakes in America get confused with milksnakes and scarlet kingsnakes that have very similar coloration and look a lot like coral snakes. Of course, there are many different types of coral snakes but the most common species here in the United States typically have red, yellow, and black coloration. 

How To Spot A Venomous Coral Snake

Some milksnakes and kingsnakes have a similar pattern to coral snakes except their pattern goes red, black, and yellow. Growing up in Texas I was always taught to remember red on yella kill a fella but yella on black venom they lack. So if you see a snake where red and yellow touch you should be very careful. This is because most likely you are dealing with a very venomous coral snake. 

That said, coral snakes can have different patterns and you cannot rely on the red on yellow rhyme 100 percent. This is especially true outside of the United States as there are other coral snakes with totally different patterns. So it is best not to take your chances especially if you are not certain what kind of snake you are dealing with. 

Coral Snakes Have The Second Most Powerful Venom

We have already established the fact that coral snakes are venomous snakes. But it might surprise you that they actually have the second most powerful venom out of all the snakes in the world. The only exception is the black mamba according to That said, they are still not considered to be as dangerous as some other common venomous snakes such as the rattlesnake. 

This is simply because they do not have as good of a venom delivery system. So basically a rattlesnake may have less powerful venom but they are going to be much more efficient at injecting that venom into flesh. That said, coral snakes are still very venomous snakes and should be respected. 

Never mess with or try and handle a venomous snake. If you need a venomous snake removed from your yard let a professional deal with it. Coral snakes are typically going to try and avoid human contact. Most people who have been bitten by coral snakes purposely tried to handle them in mess with them in one way or another.

So be smart and keep your distance. If you do this then the likelihood of getting bitten by a coral snake is very low. 

What Happens When You Get Bitten By a Coral Snake?

As previously stated, it is unlikely that you will be bitten by a coral snake unless you try and handle one or mess with one. That said, let’s talk about what would happen if you did somehow get bitten by a highly venomous coral snake. 

According to this study on coral snake toxicity, coral snake venom is a highly potent neurotoxin. That said, their delivery system is pretty mild so the effects on humans are typically less dangerous than with other venomous US snakes. This is true even though coral snakes contain such powerful venom.  In fact, there has only been one reported death in the US from a coral snake bite in recent history. 

Of course, this does not mean that you should not take coral snakes seriously. People who get bitten by coral snakes typically get delayed symptoms by up to 13 hours.  Here are some common symptoms according to this same study.

Common Symptoms Of Coral Snake Bites Could Include:

  • Pain from the bite
  • Nausea 
  • Vomiting
  • Dizziness 
  • Abdominal pain
  • Cranial nerve deficits
  • Respiratory muscle weakness with pulmonary insufficiency ( this is the most life-threatening complication ) 

Can A Coral Snake Bite Kill You?

A coral snake bite can kill you. However, it is very unlikely that this will accrue. Out of roughly 9,000 US snake bites only about 25-50 are from coral snakes. In recent years only one reported coral snake bit has resulted in a human death. 

But this one death is evidence that a coral snake bit can be deadly. If not deadly, the experience will still likely be very unpleasant. So obviously you should treat these venomous snakes with the respect that they deserve. 

Are Coral Snakes Aggressive?

Though the likelihood of dying from a coral snake bit is low, it is still very dangerous. Never mess with or try to handle venomous snakes like the coral snake. Unlike some other venomous species, the coral snake is not particularly aggressive. In fact, most people who have been bitten by coral snakes could have avoided getting bitten in the first place.

Most of the time these people tried to handle them or were just doing something they should not have been doing. Perhaps trying to poke it with a stick or something, thus causing the coral snake to act in defense. 

Most likely, however, a coral snake is going to do what it can to avoid contact with humans. So if you see one in the wild just give it some space and most likely there will be no issues. Coral snakes are not often going out of thier way to bite humans. 

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