This is a native snake in the southern U.S. and the only species north of Mexico. Several dozen other species in the same genus occur throughout Central and South America, and their color patterns will differ.
Eastern coral snakes are found in the southeast states from Texas to Florida and north to North Carolina. They have the most potent venom of all venomous North American snakes. This is compounded by the snake’s behavior of biting and holding on, potentially releasing more venom into a victim. Other venomous snakes prefer to strike and then let go and back away. Coral snake bites are very uncommon due to the reclusive behavior of the snakes and their preference to avoid urban areas. They also have short fangs that cannot penetrate leather boots, reducing the times the bite reaches the skin. Coral snake antivenin exists, but due to the lack of need its production has stopped in the U.S., leading to the potential for more serious reactions when someone is bitten by this snake.
Coral snakes will generally be easy to identify with their alternating bands of black, red, and yellow, although the exact pattern is important as it distinguishes the venomous coral snakes from the non-venomous snakes such as some king snakes, milk snake, shovelnose snake, and others. Coral snakes in North America have red bands touching yellow bands whereas the non-venomous lookalikes do not, giving rise to rhymes such as “red on yellow, kill a fellow” to remind us of this important order of the colored bands. They are normally small snakes, averaging no more than 3 feet in length but potentially growing to 5 feet.
Characteristicts Important to Control:
There are no toxins labeled for killing snakes. There are snake repellents available that rely on creating an objectionable odor to keep snakes away, often sulfur and naphthalene, and these may be used outdoors only and would need to be reapplied if they are effective. Many university websites express skepticism regarding snake repellents. Snake management for long term relief combines elimination of snake food resources, such as rodents, with removal of harborage and exclusion from structures. Rubbish, wood piles, and other unnecessary materials on the ground should be removed or stacked neatly off of the soil. Snake traps also exist for the capture of individual snakes that are a nuisance around a property. The removal of snakes by live capture or trapping also is highly effective if disposal of the snake is considered. Relocating snakes off site will generally be illegal according to state wildlife regulations, and killing captured snakes may not be acceptable to customers. It also would be important to attempt to educate homeowners regarding tolerance and appreciation of most snakes on their property, all of which feed on unwanted animals such as rodents, insects, or slugs.