Knowing how coral snakes are different from king snakes could save your life. The coral snake is well-known for its painful and (rarely) deadly poison, but the king snake is completely harmless and doesn’t pose any danger to people. But which one is which, and how do you know?
Comparing King Snake vs Coral Snake
Both kingsnakes and coral snakes are beautiful and have bright colours.
But because of the way their bands look, they are often mistaken for each other.
There are now known to be nine species of king snake and 45 subspecies.
Coral snakes are classified into two groups: Old World and New World.They live in different parts of the world.
Coral snakes from the Old World live in Asia, while coral snakes from the New World live in the Americas.
There are about 65 coral snake species in the New World and 16 in the Old World.
Even though coral snakes and king snakes are different in many ways, there are some key differences that make them different.
Check out the chart below to see some of the most important differences.
|Size||Typically 24 to 72 inches, although size varies depending on the species||Typically 18 to 20 inches, although New World can reach 36 inches|
|Location||North America, throughout the US and into Mexico||Asia (Old World coral snakes)|
The Americas (New World coral snakes)
|Habitat||Varies, but includes forest, grassland, shrubland, and deserts||Forest areas, burrowed underground or under leaves. Coral snakes in desert regions burrow into sand or soil|
|Color||Banded coloration – often red, black, and yellow or varying shades. Red and black bands touch each other||Brightly colored – usually black, red, and yellow bands. Red and yellow bands touch each other|
|Diet||Lizards, birds, rodents, bird eggs, snakes (including venomous ones)||Frogs, lizards, other snakes|
|Kill Method||Constriction||Paralyze and subdue prey with their venom|
|Predators||Large birds of prey, such as hawks||Birds of prey such as hawks, other snakes, including king snakes|
|Lifespan||20 to 30 years||7 years|
Key Differences Between Coral Snakes and King Snakes
Coral snakes and kingsnakes are different in some important ways. First of all, kingsnakes are bigger and do not have poison, while coral snakes use poison to catch their prey. Kingsnakes go after coral snakes.
Also, king snakes have bands that touch that are red and black, while coral snakes have bands that touch that are red and yellow. Let’s look at the main ways these two snakes are different!
1. Coral Snake vs Kingsnake: Color
Even though kingsnakes and coral snakes look alike, they are very different in many ways.
Coral snakes have short, blunt noses, and their heads are dark all the way back to the back of their eyes.
People in places where coral snakes and king snakes live often say, “Red on yellow kills a buddy; red on black, a friend of Jack,” to help them remember the difference between the two types of snakes.
2. Coral Snake vs Kingsnake: Venom
Their poison is one of the most important differences between kingsnakes and coral snakes.
Coral snakes are very dangerous, and their venom is the second most dangerous of all snake venoms.
Their fangs are short and always stand up. Their venom is full of very powerful neurotoxins that make it hard for the brain to control muscles. Symptoms include throwing up, being paralyzed, having trouble speaking, having muscles twitch, and even dying.
But because kingsnakes don’t have fangs and don’t have poison, they don’t kill people.
Even though their teeth are shaped like cones, they are so small that even a bite won’t hurt you.
3. Coral Snake vs Kingsnake: Size
King snakes and coral snakes have very different sizes.
Kingsnakes are much bigger than coral snakes. They can be anywhere from 24 to 72 inches (6 feet) long.
Coral snakes are much smaller than most snakes. Most of them are between 18 and 20 inches long.
On the other hand, New World coral snakes are bigger than Old World coral snakes. They can grow up to 3 feet long.
4. Coral Snake vs Kingsnake: Habitat
There are two groups of coral snakes: the Old World (found in Asia) and the New World (found in the Americas).
On the other hand, some coral snakes live in deserts and dig holes in the sand or mud to stay alive.
As far south as Mexico, you can find kingsnakes in North America.
They are very adaptable and can live in many different places, like grasslands, shrublands, river valleys, rocky slopes, forests, and deserts.
5. Coral Snake vs King Snake: Diet
There isn’t much difference between what kingsnakes and coral snakes eat, but how they kill their prey is one of the most important differences.
Coral snakes eat lizards, frogs, and other snakes.
Because they have poison, they attack their prey with their fangs.
Their teeth inject venom into their prey, which stops it from moving and makes it easy to swallow.
Kingsnakes eat mice, rats, lizards, birds, bird eggs, snakes, and even other snakes.
Some kingsnakes will eat coral snakes as well.
The “king” part of their name comes from the fact that they hunt other snakes for food.
Kingsnakes are constrictors, which means they kill their prey by wrapping their bodies so tightly around them that the heart stops because it can’t get enough blood.
Even though kingsnakes have teeth, they don’t use them to chew their food.
Instead, after they kill their prey, they swallow it whole and use their small teeth to help it go down.
6. Coral Snake vs King Snake: Looks
But there are big differences in the colours of these two snake species that can help you tell them apart.
One of the best ways to tell a king snake from a coral snake is by the order of the colours on their bodies.
There is always a black band on a king snake, then a red band, and then a white band. On the other hand, coral snakes have a pattern where white comes first, then red, and then black.
Another way to tell these two types of snakes apart is by how wide their bands are. The bands on a king snake are always the same width. On a coral snake, on the other hand, the bands get wider as you move down its body.
7. Coral Snake vs King Snake: Snout
One of the most obvious differences between a king snake and a coral snake is the shape of their noses.
Coral snakes have thin, pointed noses, while king snakes have wide, blunt noses. This difference is because the two types of snakes eat different things.
8 Coral Snake vs King Snake: Behavior
Coral snakes and king snakes act very differently, which could help you tell them apart.
On the other hand, coral snakes are very poisonous and dangerous. They are more likely to bite if they feel scared.
Another big difference is that king snakes often curl up when they feel threatened, but coral snakes rarely do this.
Lastly, king snakes are more active during the day, while coral snakes are more active at night.
If you see a snake and don’t know what kind it is, it’s best to play it safe and stay away. If you think either type of snake bit you, you should go to the hospital right away.
9. Coral Snake vs King Snake: History
Coral snakes are an American type of elapid snake. The southeastern United States, Mexico, Central America, and South America are where they are most common. Coral snakes have poison and can kill people if they are not handled properly.
Since then, many new coral snake species have been found. The most well-known species is the common or banded coral snake (Micrurus fulvius).
Coral snakes often have bright red, yellow, and black bands on their bodies. This colouring is supposed to help the snakes hide by helping them blend in with their surroundings. Coral snakes are sometimes called “red-bellied snakes” because their bellies are red.
Coral snakes usually grow to be between 3 and 4 feet (0.9 and 1.2 meters) long, but some species can get as long as 6 feet (1.8 meters).
These snakes are naturally scared, so they try to stay away from people. They will bite, though, if they feel threatened or if they are touched or handled by accident.
Coral snakes are very dangerous because their bites are very poisonous.
A coral snake bite could cause pain at the site of the bite, swelling, tingling, numbness, paralysis, and trouble breathing. If you don’t treat a coral snake bite right away, it can kill you.
If you see a coral snake, you should try to stay away from it. If you have to touch one of these snakes, you should be very careful and wear gloves. If a coral snake bites you, get medical help right away by calling 911.
On the other hand, king snakes are huge and less dangerous. They live in both North and South America.
There are many different kinds of king snakes, and each has its own size, colour, and pattern. King snakes are known for being calm and for being able to kill and eat other snakes, even dangerous ones.
Some people think that king snakes can’t get sick from bites from poisonous snakes. This isn’t true. King snakes can handle venom, but they aren’t immune to it.
Even though they have a bad reputation, king snakes are quiet, gentle animals that make great pets.
If you want to buy a king snake, you should first do some research and find a reputable breeder. If you take good care of your new pet, it will give you years of fun.
King Snake Vs. Coral Snake: Similarities
- Coral snakes and king snakes are both in the family Colubridae, which is made up of lizard-like snakes.
- Both coral snakes and king snakes have beautiful patterns on their skin.
- The pattern on a coral snake’s skin is often black, red, and yellow, while a king snake’s pattern is usually black and white.
- Coral snakes and king snakes both have poison, but coral snake poison is usually stronger.
- Both North and South America have coral and king snakes.
- Coral and king snakes eat small mammals, reptiles, amphibians, and insects.
- Rhymes that will help you remember how to tell if a snake is a coral snake
Rhymes That Help You Remember How to Tell Whether or Not a Snake is a Coral Snake
Don’t worry, there’s a clever rhyme that can help people remember how to tell if the snake they’re looking at is a coral snake. Red meets black, Jack’s friendIf red and yellow hit each other, one of them dies.
This simple rhyme was made to help people learn to spot coral snakes and tell them apart from scarlet king snakes.
This rhyme has a few changes that make it easier for some people to remember if they can’t remember the original.
If you touch red and yellow together, you will die. When black meets red, keep your head up.
Why Do People Mistake Coral Snakes and Scarlet King Snakes?
Even though coral snakes and scarlet king snakes look the same, there are a few other things that make it hard to tell them apart. The first thing to think about is where it is.
Coral snakes and scarlet king snakes live in the southeast of the United States, in places like Georgia, Florida, and South Carolina. Both of these snakes like to live in places with woods, sand, and water.
People have trouble telling these two snakes apart because they live in similar places.
Another thing that makes it hard to tell these two snakes apart is that they both like to burrow and are very good at it.
Coral snakes and scarlet king snakes can sometimes be seen slithering around in the trees as you walk down a trail in the woods. However, they are much more likely to be found hiding under a pile of leaves or coming out of a hole in the ground.
Both of these snakes like to eat lizards, frogs, and bird eggs. Both of these snake species are strange because they eat other snakes.
Because these snakes have so many things in common, like their colours, patterns, and even where they live, it is hard to see or understand how they are different.
There are many important differences between these two snakes that keep them from being the same.
Other Major Differences Between Coral Snakes and Scarlet King Snakes
Cobras, mambas, and sea snakes are all related to coral snakes.
This is why they are poisonous and can kill you. On the other hand, scarlet king snakes are a type of king snake that are only dangerous if you are another snake.
The main difference between them is that coral snakes are poisonous and scarlet king snakes are not.
Scarlet king snakes are small snakes that are much smaller than other king snake species. Most of the time, they grow to be about 1.5 feet tall.
Scarlet king snakes are small, but coral snakes can grow to be three or four feet long. This is a big difference that can be seen.
Why do Scarlet King Snakes Look like Coral Snakes?
Many animals and reptiles use camouflage to stay safe. Scarlet king snakes can’t hide, so they pretend to be a dangerous neighbour.
Scarlet king snakes have changed over time to look like coral snakes to scare off other predators that might be dangerous and want to hurt them.
Even though this change was meant to protect scarlet king snakes, it sometimes backfires when people kill them because they think they are coral snakes.
Can King Snakes be Harmful to Humans?
Scarlet king snakes, like all king snakes, are not dangerous to people. Most of the time, they are very calm and make great pets.
If a red-king snake bit a person, it would probably draw blood and hurt more than a cat scratch. As was already said, these little guys like to look scary to protect themselves, but their “bark” is stronger than their bite.
If you are a snake or want to own two snakes, you shouldn’t put a scarlet king snake or any other kind of king snake in the same terrarium.
If another snake lives in their home, king snakes will eat it and become very mean. This is especially true if you are trying to mate with a king snake, so be careful.
FAQ’s (Frequently Asked Questions)
Are coral snakes and king snakes from the same family group?
No, king snakes are in the family Colubridae, which is the biggest family of snakes.
A member of the Colubridae family can be found on every continent except Antarctica.
Coral snakes are part of the family Elapidae, which is made up of poisonous snakes.
Elapidae snakes are different because their fangs don’t come back down. Instead, they use their fangs to deliver poison that kills.
Coral snakes lay eggs, yes. Coral snakes lay eggs instead of giving birth to live babies, which is different from most other poisonous snakes.
Do coral snakes lay eggs?
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Milk Snakes vs. King Snakes?
Both of these snakes look almost exactly the same and are very calm. Even though they are two different snakes, they are both in the same family.
If you decide to keep either of these snakes as a pet, they are both beautiful and would make great friends.
Can Coral Snakes Kill You?
Coral snakes have poison that is very dangerous, but it rarely kills a person. Coral snakes have very poisonous venom, but it takes them several bites to inject enough venom to kill a person.
Can a Coral Snake Bite Kill a Dog?
Coral snakes can be highly venomous and hazardous to dogs, so take your pet to the clinic if you fear it has been bitten by this venomous snake.
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