Adult Size: This very secretive snake commonly attains 2½ feet in length. The record authenticated size is 47½ inches.
Range: A species predominantly of the southeastern Coastal Plain and lower Piedmont from central North Carolina to extreme eastern Louisiana. It is found throughout mainland Florida and the Upper Florida Keys.
Habitat: This snake prefers a substrate into which it can easily burrow. Pine-oak-palmetto scrub, hammocks, pond edges and even suburban yards and gardens are all suitable habitats.
Captive Lifespan: 5 to 8 Years
Care Level: Advanced
Three species of coral snakes are the only elapine snakes native to the United States. The age old ditty âred to yellow kill a fellow, red to black, venom lackâ works well for identifying the coral snakes of the United Statesâ”except on Key Largo, Florida where most or all of the yellow pigment is absent. Another way of remembering the color sequence of the coral snake (again, except on Key Largo) is to remember that like a traffic signal where the two caution colors, red and yellow, are next to each other, the two caution colors touch on the coral snake. On the harmless âmimicsâ the caution colors are separated by black.
Two erroneous beliefs must be dispelled. Firstly, the dangerously venomous coral snake is not a rear-fanged snake. It is a front-fanged species. The fangs are short and do not rotate on a movable maxillary bone like a vipers fangs do. And secondly a coral snake can and will bite anywhere they can reach. It is NOT true that they can bite only on finger or toe. A coral snake does not administer venom as effectively as a viper, but it is a very dangerous snake that should be treated with caution and respect.
The eastern coral snake is so secretive that it might actually be present in an area in fair numbers yet its existence may be unsuspected.
This taxon is one of the more difficult snakes to maintain successfully as captive. In addition to pieces of flat bark beneath which they may hide, they should be given a substrate of several inches of finely shredded cypress mulch, peat moss or pelleted newsprint into which they may burrow. It may be beneficial to keep a small area of the substrate barely moistened and the rest dry. The terrarium in which a coral snake is kept can be low but must be escape proof and should have a fairly large footprintâ”24 inches by 48 inches is suggested. A low-edged water bowl sufficiently large for the snake to both drink and soak should be provided. The water must be kept fresh and clean.