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Wednesday, May 22, 2024

King Snake Vs. Coral Snake

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The Lampropeltis getula, more commonly known as the King Snake, is a non-venomous Colubrid species abundant throughout the Americas. Its strength and skill in constricting make it an imposing predator. Varying in size and coloration from region to region – with black, yellow, red, and white bandings being some of its most popular morphs – it can be found inhabiting many different habitats across its expansive range.

In contrast, the coral snake is a poisonous elapid species known for its vibrant red and yellow stripes. These snakes are found in parts of Central and South America, ranging from the southeastern US to the northern states of South America. They have small to medium sizes, growing up to a maximum of 40 inches long.

So what are the key differences of these snakes species? If you’re interested to know more, we invite you to keep reading as we’re going to get into the details of this article entitled king snake vs. coral snake.


If you’re trying to distinguish between king and coral snakes, the best way is by color. King snakes are part of the Genus Lampropeltis family, usually featuring a black-white-red or yellow banding pattern; the standard order for their bands goes: starting with two black ones on either side and one red or yellow in the middle. By contrast, species of the genus Micrurus are often known as coral snakes due to their signature hue — a vivid arrangement of yellow, red, and black bands. The pattern starts with a wide yellow band, which narrows into a red stripe, followed by two distinctively thin black stripes at each end.

Venom Levels

Deadly coral snakes from the Elapidae family, which is also home to cobras and mambas, possess a powerful neurotoxin capable of inducing paralysis or respiratory failure in their victims.

The coral snake boasts a deadly neurotoxic venom composed of proteins, presynaptic toxins, and postsynaptic neurotoxins. Though believed to have some level of cytotoxicity in its makeup, its potency isn’t enough to cause significant damage in humans. The coral snake’s venom is a dangerous neurotoxin that has the potential to disrupt one’s neurological activity and cause severe bodily harm. From impaired breathing to paralysis, this toxin can be fatal if not treated promptly with medical attention. Therefore, it is essential for anyone who suspects they have been bitten by a coral snake to get professional help immediately.

The venom of a coral snake possesses immense potency and, if left untreated and inhaled into the bloodstream by humans, can be lethal. It contains neurotoxins that attack the nervous system, obstructing nerve impulses and resulting in paralysis. The effects are even more grave when it enters the bloodstream, where it could cause respiratory failure with fatal results if no medical attention is sought out immediately. A coral snake bite can be fatal within one hour of being bitten if medical attention is not sought after immediately. Thankfully, antivenom exists as a life-saving treatment option; thus, it is essential to get medical assistance without delay in the event of a coral snake bite to prevent potentially deadly outcomes.

Unlike other species of snake, king snakes are part of the Colubridae family and lack venom entirely. Their bite is nothing to be concerned about; it may cause localized pain or swelling, but will not require medical attention. King snakes use constriction as their primary method for subduing prey – wrapping themselves tightly around them until they suffocate – although they have also been known to grasp human skin with their mouths.


From deserts to moist forests, king snakes can be found living in a multitude of habitats. In order to feel protected and secure, they tend to dwell underbrush or rocks where they can enjoy plenty of coverage. Though largely solitary creatures, on occasional occasions you may come across small groups gathering around food sources.

Coral snakes, which inhabit mostly tropical climates and prefer damp areas such as rainforests or swamps, are often seen out in the open but remain close to the ground. To shield themselves from potential predators, they use burrows for shelter.


King snakes, with their lack of venom and formidable constricting abilities, are fierce carnivores that hunt small birds, rodents, lizards, other reptiles, as well as eggs or even carrion. These powerful predators make a meal out of anything smaller than themselves.

As opposed to their harmless counterparts, coral snakes are venomous predators that prey on animals such as frogs, lizards, and fellow serpents. To ensure that they can successfully inject the paralyzing toxins into their victim, these creatures usually coil themselves up before striking. Following the paralysis of their target prey item, they consume it whole with no exceptions.

Kill Method

The mighty king snake possesses a powerful body that it uses to squeeze the life out of its prey. Conversely, coral snakes possess small, hollow fangs through which venom can be injected into victims. King snakes tend not to act aggressively towards humans unless provoked, whereas coral snakes are known for being far more temperamental and hostile.

In contrast, coral snakes should be avoided as pets since they can behave aggressively. These venomous creatures hunt their prey by injecting toxins that can prove hazardous to humans. Moreover, unlike king snakes, the vibrant colors of coral snakes help them to conceal themselves from predators.


King snakes are recognized for their extended life expectancy, with an average of 10-20 years in captivity and up to 15 years in the wild. Unlike king snakes, coral snakes have a much shorter lifespan – typically between 2 and 6 years both inside and outside of enclosures. The conditions that influence a king snake’s longevity include environmental factors such as temperature and humidity levels, dietary habits, as well as protection from predators. Compared to king snakes, coral snakes experience shorter lifespans due to their delicate form and small size in the wild.

Do King Snakes Eat Coral Snakes

While it is true that King Snakes may consume Coral Snakes, this doesn’t happen often. King Snakes don’t actively seek out and prey on Coral Snakes; they typically will come across them in their natural habitat if other food sources become scarce. Even then, the King Snake might choose to pass over a potential meal due to the venom’s toxicity. That said, when a King Snake does eat a Coral Snake, it is usually younger due to its size and lower amount of venom present.

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