A bite from the notoriously venomous eastern coral snake at first seems anticlimactic. There is little or no pain or swelling at the site of the bite, and other symptoms can be delayed for 12 hours. However, if untreated by antivenin, the neurotoxin begins to disrupt the connections between the brain and the muscles, causing slurred speech, double vision, and muscular paralysis, eventually ending in respiratory or cardiac failure.
This iconic snake, with its bulbous head and red, yellow, and black bands, is famous as much for its potent venom as for the many rhymes—"Red and yellow, kill a fellow; red and black, friend of Jack"—penned to distinguish it from similarly patterned, nonvenomous copycats, such as the scarlet king snake.
Average life span in captivity: Up to 7 years
Size: 20 to 30 in (51 to 76 cm)
Group name: Bed or knot
Did you know? When threatened, a coral snake will curl the tip of its tail to confuse its attacker as to which end is its head.
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