A-z - Animals

Texas Coral Snake

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The Texas coral snake has the second most potent venom in the world .

Texas Coral Snake 1

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The nocturnal Texas coral snake is known for its black, yellow and red stripes. Its diet consists mainly of ground snakes and skinks. During the day, Texas coral snakes spend most of their time underground or hiding under bushes. These reptiles are venomous, but not as aggressive as other venomous snakes such as rattlesnakes.

4 Surprising Facts

  • Texas coral snakes sometimes deflate to deter predators.
  • Its baby snake shows all the colored bands of an adult snake, but is only seven inches long.
  • Its lifespan is 10 to 15 years.
  • Thanks to antivenom, the last fatal bite from this snake occurred in the 1960s.

taxonomic name

Micrurus tener is the scientific name for the Texas coral snake. The Latin word tener, meaning soft, refers to the snake's rounded head. It is called a coral snake because of its brightly colored scales. Corals in the ocean are known for their vibrant colors.

This snake belongs to the cobra family and reptile class. Subspecies of this snake include:

  • Micrurus tener tamaulipensis
  • Micrurus tener microgalbineus
  • small spotted fish
  • Micrurus tener fitizingeri

appearance and description

Texas coral snakes are known for their black, yellow and red stripes.
Texas coral snakes are known for their black, yellow and red stripes.

© Joe Farah/Shutterstock.com

The color and pattern of this snake is the most eye-catching. Its body is covered with a series of straps. It has a broad red band, a thin yellow band and a black band. These bands go all the way around the snake's body.

The Texas coral snake has a narrow body, 24 to 48 inches long. Its head is round, and its eyes are round and black. The snake's fangs are short and grooved, located at the front of the mouth on the upper jaw.

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Here is a summary of key points for identifying a Texas coral snake:

  • Stripes of red, yellow and black run down and around the body.
  • narrow body
  • round head
  • round dark eyes

Texas Coral Snake vs Milk Snake

Several species of snake mimic the appearance of the Texas coral snake. The very similar appearance to the venomous Texas coral snake gives the nonvenomous snake a sneaky way of hiding from predators! Predators instinctively know that brightly colored snakes are likely to have venom.

One such mimicry is the central plains milk snake. Studying the similarities and differences between these two snakes can make it easier to tell them apart.

Milk snakes are similar in appearance to coral snakes and live in the same area and habitat.

© iStock.com/amwu

Texas coral snakes and milk snakes live in the same area and share the same habitat. At first glance, the colored stripes of Texas coral snakes and milk snakes look similar. But there are also differences.

The main difference in their appearance is that Texas coral snakes have black, red and yellow patterns. Its red and yellow bands touch. Alternatively, milk snakes have yellow, black, and red stripes. Its yellow and black stripes touch each other. Remember the old rhymes? Red and Yellow kill a guy, Red on Black, Jack's friend. So when the yellow and red stripes meet, you're looking at a venomous Texas coral snake.

The Texas coral snake has a band that runs all the way around its belly, while the milk snake has a black and white checkered pattern on its belly.

Another subtle difference between the Texas coral snake and the milk snake is that the Texas coral snake has a rounder head than it looks.

Behavior and Humans

Texas coral snakes have been described as shy and secretive. If they come across people in the woods or grasslands, the snake will likely slip away and find a place to hide. Most bites by this snake are caused by someone trying to pick up or otherwise interact with the snake. This kind of snake mainly eats other snakes, especially ground snakes, and it can kill each other.

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This North American snake makes its home in the southeastern United States. They occur in southern Arkansas, Louisiana, and of course Texas. The snake's territory extends into the northeastern and central regions of Mexico.

Texas coral snakes hide during the day in burrows or under foliage debris.

These snakes live in wetlands, grasslands, savannas, or forest habitats. During the day, they hide in burrows or under clumps of foliage. They come out at night to find food. These snakes are common after heavy rains with temperatures above 75 degrees Fahrenheit.


The female Texas coral snake is oviparous – it lays a clutch of eggs, usually 3-12, usually in the ground or in leaves or soil. They usually mate in spring and lay their eggs in June. The eggs then hatch in September. Coral snake larvae typically range in size from 6.5 inches to 9.5 inches.

Population and Conservation Status

The snake's population is stable, estimated at more than 100,000 adults. It is listed as least of concern by environmentalists.


Texas coral snakes are venomous and dangerous to humans. Indeed, this snake is known for having the second most powerful venom in the world. (The Black Mamba came first in that contest.) However, the Texas coral snake is not aggressive. Plus, when this snake bites, it doesn't inject a lot of venom.

The small snout and short, fixed fangs of the Texas coral snake prevent it from digging firmly into the tough skin of humans. That's why a bite from a Texas coral snake doesn't hurt very much. Therefore, it doesn't bite a lot of venom like a rattlesnake. But any bite from this snake must always be taken seriously.

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If someone is bitten by this snake, the first thing to do is call an ambulance. Next, have the person sit quietly in the shade and move as little as possible while waiting for help. Keep the injured area below the level of the patient's heart.

Today, an antivenom is available to treat bites from Texas coral snakes. In fact, no deaths from Texas coral snake bites have been reported since 1960. But remember, being bitten by this snake means you should go to the hospital as soon as possible.

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Yes, the Texas coral snake has a strong venom.

Texas coral snakes chase prey through their roost at night. When they spot a smaller snake or skink, the snake grabs it and bites it. Because the snake has small, fixed fangs, it moves its mouth to chew its prey in order to release enough venom to kill it. Each time it chews, it releases more venom.

No, they are shy reptiles that like to stay underground.

The Texas coral snake lives in the southern United States, including southwestern Arkansas, western Louisiana, and Texas. In addition, they are found in northern and eastern Mexico.

They are cannibals, which means they eat other snakes! Ground snakes and skinks are an important part of the Texas coral snake's diet. Rodents may also be included in their diet, but this is less common.

They have the second most powerful venom in the world.

Texas coral snakes grow to 24 to 48 inches long.

If you go for a walk during the day, you probably won't see a Texas coral snake. They spend the day in burrows, under leaves and bushes. Sometimes they hide under abandoned planks. At night, they move through grassland, forest or savannah habitats in search of food.