Florida Coral Snakes

Florida Coral Snake and Look-a-Likes

Coral Snake (Highly venomous)

The coral snake has round eyes and face. These are physical characteristics associated with nonvenomous snakes, which makes identification difficult.

Not all snakes have the same color scheme, so it is important to be familiar with the snakes specific to your region. This snake is small in comparison to other venomous snakes in the United States. At its longest, an adult can measure around thirty inches. The colorful body is slender and lacks real variance in width. The head blends seamlessly into the body with no distinctive neck. The head of this species of coral snake is always black.

 You may notice that the mimic snakes have a red nose, and the Coral Snake has a black nose. That’s one way that people tell the difference, even without checking the order of the colored bands. Also, you will notice that the coral snake’s bands go all the way around its body, whereas the look alike coral snakes have different bellies, either faded or entirely white.

In Florida, the coral snake’s favorite time of day to be active and mobile is early mornings or late in the evenings when it is not so hot. Be cautious around shrubs, tall grass and areas surrounding water, such as canals, lakes and swamps. Coral snakes like landscaped areas and hiding in shrubs, under rocks, debris or anywhere shady. They roam year-round, but even more so in the spring during breeding season or when it has been raining and their holes get filled up with water.

  Red touch yellow, kill a fellow. If his nose is black, he’s bad for Jack 

People try to do that rhyme, but they mix it up or forget it, but it’s not reliable anyhow, because in some areas, the same species of snake might have different color patterns. Best to err on the side of caution! 

Scarlet King snake (won’t hurt you)

 Red touch black, friend of jack. (Again, best to err on the side of caution)

 Scarlet Kingsnakes and Florida Scarlets are snakes that look like coral snakes.

 Coral snakes and lookalikes such as the Scarlet Kingsnake are not common, and rarely seek conflict when they encounter humans, whether it’s a deadly species or one of the mimic snakes. 


A coral snake that is encountered will first try to slither away. If it is handled, or harassed, that is when the animal will bite. The same goes for the snakes that copy coral snake appearance. 

The coral snake bites and then holds on while the glands adjacent to its teeth secrete the venom. The longer the snake remains attached, the more venom that is absorbed. 

 There is no need to kill a Coral snake or it’s look-a-likes. The best way to get rid of types of snakes that look like coral snakes is to simply leave them alone. You can also use a snake trap to catch them – that’s one of the best ways to remove coral copycat snakes with red yellow and black band and stripes around the body.


Always wear protective gloves and shoes when working outdoors. Look before sitting, stepping or reaching near or around rocks and logs. Avoid placing hands in areas that are hidden or concealed. Use caution when cleaning up debris after natural disasters. Never attempt to catch, kill or handle a snake — even a dead snake can envenomate you.

Coral snake bites don’t usually have immediate signs or symptoms. People may not see swelling or feel pain, but four or five hours later, they may feel like their diaphragm is cut off and they can’t breathe. If bitten, you should seek help immediately, even if there are no symptoms.

Written by C.B. Swartz

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