Florida's Snake Season

I had an encounter with this Coral Snake (Micrurus fulvius) this afternoon as temperatures approached 90º F (32º C). This is Florida's snake season when temperatures are ideal for snakes to be on the move searching for mates. Every snake out there has a mom and dad. . . and likely brothers and sisters. So when you see one, there are others around.

How to Identify a Coral Snake

If you can remember the childhood rhyme, it is an easy way to distinguish a deadly coral snake from a harmless king snake. I can rarely remember the rhyme but below are some other ways to distinguish the coral snake.

"Red touches yellow, kills a fellow. . . "

"Red on Black, a friend of Jack."

1. Check the pattern of the bands on the snake to identify it as a Coral snake. The Coral snake is ringed with narrow yellow and wider black and red stripes. On a Coral snake, the red rings touch the yellow. On non-poisnous mimics (King snake) they do not.

2. Note the length of the snake. Adult Coral snakes are usually between 20 and 30 inches long (50 to 76 cm), though they may be longer.

3. The Coral snake's head is black from the front to behind the eyes. The rest of the Coral snake's head is bright yellow.

4. Look at the eyes of the snake. The coral snake has round pupils, as opposed to the vertical, cat-like pupils of most other venomous snakes.

5. Avoid the snake's teeth. The Coral snake has small, grooved fangs that do not fold back into its mouth, but stand in place. The bite of a Coral snake is always dangerous and can be deadly.

6. Look at the snake's tail for final identification. The Coral snake's tail is black and yellow only, with no red bands.

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Florida's Snake Season