Home AnimalsReptiles Coral Snake vs. King Snake: Know The Difference (A Venomous Trail)

Coral Snake vs. King Snake: Know The Difference (A Venomous Trail)

by Logan

Snakes are fascinating creatures and have been a part of human culture for thousands of years. They have been used in myths and legends worldwide, from Greek mythology to African folklore to Native American legends. They have served as symbols of power and wisdom, as well as of evil.

The word “snake” comes from the Greek word nēkos, which means “tailed serpent” or “creeping thing.” The first snakes were just lizards with big tails. Over time, these reptiles evolved into modern-day snakes by losing their legs and growing longer bodies, allowing them to constrict their prey and swallow it whole.

There are over 3,000 known species of snakes worldwide, with many more yet to be discovered. Two of these species are the coral snake and the king snake.

The main difference between a coral snake and a king snake is their color. Although both types of snakes have a banded pattern, coral snakes have red bands separated by black rings, while king snakes have wide red bands separated by thin yellow or white rings.

Moreover, coral snakes also have a small head and a triangular-shaped head, while the king snake has a giant head and a rounder face.

If you are interested in these two species of snake, read till the end.

What Is A Coral Snake?

Coral snakes are a group of snakes native to the warmer parts of North America, Central America, and Mexico. They can be identified by their red, yellow, and black coloration. Coral snakes are not aggressive, but they will bite if provoked.

An image of a coral snake.
Coral Snake

Coral snakes can grow up to two feet long and have large fangs that deliver potent venom. The venom is usually not fatal unless the person who was bitten has an allergic reaction.

Most people do not die from coral snake bites, but they may experience severe pain and swelling at the site of the bite. Coral snake bites can cause nausea, vomiting, headaches, and muscle pain.

The most dangerous thing about coral snake bites is that they are often misdiagnosed as rattlesnake bites because they look similar: both have red bands with black rings around them. Coral snakes have red bands with yellow rings instead of black ones, as rattlesnakes do!

If you think someone has been bitten by a coral snake or any other venomous snake, call 911 immediately!

What Is A King Snake?

King snakes are non-venomous constrictors that can grow up to 8 feet long. They are found throughout the United States. These snakes are popular pets and are easy to care for.

An image of a king snake.
King Snake

King snakes can be recognized by their large, triangular heads and black-and-white banding patterns. Their coloring is typically shades of tan or light brown with black bands that run along the length of their bodies; they have thick bodies and smooth scales.

The name “king snake” is derived from the fact that these reptiles will eat other snakes in the wild. They can also eat smaller rodents like mice and rats if they cannot find another meal source. The length of time a king snake takes to eat its prey depends on how big its mouth is compared to the size of its victim’s body.

King snakes have large teeth, so they can easily swallow any snake they choose and other animals like mice or rats because they have small bodies compared to other animals in nature today!

Know The Difference

Coral snakes and king snakes have some similarities, but they also have many differences.

Coral snakes and king snakes are both members of the pit viper family, meaning they have a heat-sensing pit on their faces. That’s how they can find prey in the dark.

  • King snakes live in North America while coral snakes live in South America.
  • King snakes are nonvenomous and eat other snakes, while coral snakes are venomous and eat small animals like lizards or mice.
  • King snakes are larger than coral snakes, with longer bodies and heads that are wider than their necks.
  • Coral snakes usually have brighter colors than king snakes as well, with bands of red or pink stripes on black scales instead of solid colors like red or white rings around black bands on yellow scales (like with a king’s banded pattern).
  • King snakes have a black snout, while coral snakes do not.
  • King snake fangs are short and curved, while coral snake fangs are long and slender with a slight curve at the tip of each tooth.
  • King snakes have round pupils in their eyes, while coral snakes have elliptical pupils.
  • Coral snake venom is more toxic than that of a rattlesnake or diamondback rattlesnake; however, its bite does not usually lead to serious injury unless multiple bites occur at once or if it injects large amounts of venom into one spot on the body.
  • King snake bite is still potent enough to cause significant damage if it bites someone who has an allergic reaction to it.

King Snake vs. Coral Snake

Here is a table of the comparison between the two species for your easy understanding.

King Snake Coral Snake
Non-venomousVenomous
Round pupilsElliptical pupils
Found throughout North AmericaFound in the southeastern United States
Have wide red bands that are separated by thin yellow or white ringsHave red bands that are separated by black rings
King Snake vs. Coral Snake

Here’s a video showing how to tell the difference between a coral and a king snake.

Coral Snakes vs. King Snakes

What Looks Like A Coral Snake But Is Not Poisonous?

The Eastern Indigo Snake looks very similar to a coral snake, and it is easy to mistake one reptile for the other. However, this snake is not poisonous.

The eastern indigo snake has black and blue stripes that look similar to those of a coral snake, but its coloration does not have the red belly that all coral snakes have. The belly of an eastern indigo snake will also be yellow or white instead of red.

Will A King Snake Bite You?

King snakes are not aggressive but will bite if they feel threatened.

Bites from king snakes are rare because:

  • they are generally gentle snakes,
  • the most common cause of a king snake bite is handling or holding the snake.

You might get bitten on the finger or hand if you handle or hold the snake. This is because the king snake can only strike forward and cannot reach anything behind it. You can reduce your risk of getting bitten by being careful when handling this type of snake.

The most common symptoms of a king snake bite include pain at the site, swelling around that area, and discoloration (black or blue).

Are Coral Or King Snakes Venomous?

Coral snakes are venomous and more dangerous than the king snake. Its venom is quite potent, but it doesn’t inject as much venom when it bites.

The king snake has a milder nonvenomous bite, but its bite still needs to be taken seriously and treated as soon as possible.

Will A King Snake Eat A Coral Snake?

King snakes are non-venomous; their diet consists of mice, rats, other snakes, lizards, and even birds. They will eat coral snakes if they can catch them because they see them as food.

Final Takeaway

  • Coral snakes are larger than king snakes. They’re usually between 2 and 4 feet long, while king snakes are usually around 2 feet long.
  • Coral snakes have a red or yellow band with black stripes, while king snakes have red or yellow bands with white stripes.
  • Coral snakes rarely bite humans because they’re shy, but king snakes can be aggressive if you get too close to them.
  • Coral snakes are more likely to be found in tropical areas than king snakes.
  • Coral snakes are more venomous than king snakes.
  • Coral snakes have red tails and black bands, while king snakes have black tails and red bands.
  • Coral snakes have elliptical pupils, while kings snakes have round pupils.

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