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Coral snake

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Coral snake
Head of a Coral Snake.jpg
Scientific Classification
Leptomicrurus (thread coral)
Micruroides (western coral)
Micrurus (common coral)
Species

Species: Over 65

All coral snakes are elapid snakes (possessing fixed frontal fangs). They are in the same taxonomic family as the vipers and divided up into two groups: the old world, and the new world snakes. There are over sixty-five recognized species. New species continue to be discovered and the taxonomic classification varies by source.[1]

Anatomy

Most coral snakes are known for their differential red yellow black banding inspiring some folk rhymes related to venomous vs. nonvenomous species - "Red on yellow kills a fellow" or "Red on black is a friend of Jack". Actually, this pattern only applies to species found in the south and eastern United States (Micrurus fulvius and Micrurus tener).[2] The average size for a North American coral snake is about two feet for the male, and the female is about two feet, six inches.[3] It is not unusual to see one up to thirty-five inches. The South American species get much longer than that. The thing most coral snakes have in common are there thin bodies, the head that is the same size as the body, usually small eyes, and the rounded snout. [4] All coral snakes also have front fixed fangs. When they are attacking prey they bite several times and will even hang on, which is not common for snakes to do.[5] Although some marine species have a flattened tail that is used as a fin for swimming. [6]

Ecology and Behavior

Eastern Coral Snake on the Rocky Ground(Micrurus fulvius tener)

Coral snakes are ophiophagous (feeding on snakes). The ground coral snake eats mostly other snakes smaller than itself, lizards, and very rarely rodents.[7] They feed a lot from April to May and September to November.[8] The water coral snake will eat fresh water eels and also knife fish. [9] Most coral snakes have a high variety of behaviors. They live mostly underground or in forests where there are plenty of leaves and decaying logs. The snake will also make its home where there are plenty of crevices between rocks. This snake need camouflage to protect young and to help hunt its prey down. They also like loose ground so they can burrow easily. The eastern coral snake may also lift its tail into the air to mimic its head to deflect attacks to another part of its body, while it is being attacked. Coral snakes live a solitary life unless they come out to breed in the late spring to early summer, or in the late summer to early autumn. [10]

Reproduction

When the male starts looking for the female, sometimes after finding one another they will fight and kill one another. This normally does not happen, but it gives a good example of how solitude their life is. After the male finds a female he will rub his nose on the back of the female before mating. Then the female leaves and probably never sees the male again.[11] The female incubates the eggs for about ninety days. Once the eggs hatch the babies come out with their color banding and their venom ready. Baby coral snakes are about seven inches long after the egg hatches. [12]

Venom

The venom of the coral snake can kill, but their fixed front fangs are not long enough to penetrate shoes or even thick clothing. [13] There fangs are barely long enough to kill the small animals that they eat. The venom they produce is very a powerful neurotoxin, but they do not bite very often. They are also the only relative of cobra found in the new world. If you live in an area that has coral snakes and get bit, then you need to speak immediate medical attention. The wound where you were bit will not swell up very much like the viper bite would. Systemic effects can delay up to eight-twenty-four hours before manifestation occurs. The potential delay in the symptom from the bite can result in the preventative treatment whether you are showing symptoms or not. After the bite, the thing that has the bite has there neurotransmitters between the brain and muscles to malfunction. Most initial symptoms include, double vision, slurred speech, and difficulty swallowing. After that there is muscle paralysis and respiratory and cardiac arrest as well. Coral snake venom is a lot stronger than what is need for their prey.[14]

Gallery

Taxonomy

Genus Leptomicrurus: (thread coral)

Genus Micruroides: (western coral)

Genus Micrurus: (common coral)

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Related References

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