NC Snake Pictures / Eastern Coral Snake

Micrurus fulvius

Venomous; 20-35 inches (508 to 890 mm)
distribution map
Distribution key: blue=where snake is found. Coral snakes are increasingly rare even in listed habitat.

Sandhills, wooded & wiregrass areas in sandy soil are home to this rare, small, secretive snake, which spends most of its life underground. It burrows in sand, leaf litter, and under loose boards, tin, or logs. It feeds on small reptiles, including its own species. The Coral snake lays between 3 and 12 eggs in June. The eggs, which are not cared for by the mother after laying, will hatch in September. Coral snakes are often confused with several brightly colored nonvenomous snakes, but the Coral Snake always has a bulbous black and yellow head, and the red bands are bordered with yellow. The more common nonvenomous look-alikes have red on their heads, and the red bands are bordered with black. Click here for interesting research about these look-alike snakes.

Coral snakes are related to cobras and sea snakes. Coral snakes are not pit vipers, and do not have triangular shaped heads or cat's eye pupils. Although the venom is extremely toxic, this snake is quite docile and is unlikely to bite unless handled or stepped on.

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Picture provided by R. W. Van der Vender.