Coral Snake

Common Name: Coral Snake

Type: Reptile

Family: Elapidae / Cobra

Range: They can be found in Dry forests and rainforests of Costa Rica

Size: Coral snake have an average length from 20 -30 inches (51 – 76 cm)

Diet: They are Carnivore. Coral snakes are ophiophagous, it means they hunt and eat snakes. They also eat insects, lizards, frogs, mice, and small birds. After they become old and paralyze their prey, they swallow them whole.
Average life span: They have an average life span of 7 years in captivity. The life span in the wild is unknown.

Habitat: Coral snakes live in a variety of habitats, including palmetto and scrub areas, wooded areas, and swamps. Often, they will venture into residential areas.Coral snakes spend most of their time underground in places like holes dug by other animals. They can also be found in hidden places such as underneath rotting leaves or in tree stumps.

Breeding/Reproduction: The coral snake is the only venomous species of snake in North America that lays eggs. The female lays 3-5 eggs during the summer and within 2-3 months the eggs will hatch. After birth, baby snakes are about 7 inches in length and have the same color pattern as the adult, and are fully venomous.

Amazing Facts: When coral snakes are threatened. They will curl the tip of its tail to confuse its attacker as to which end is its head.

SPECIAL FEATURES: highly venomous

The coral snake is a small smooth beautifully colored snake. It looks like ocean corals for its bright colors so the explorers in earlier period gave the name ‘coral snake ‘. It belongs to the family of Elapidae. The species of coral snakes are subdivided into Old World and New World. More than 50 species are found. Most species are smaller in size, generally, 2 to 4 feet long. In the aquatic species the tail works like a fin and helps it to float and swim in water. The species is admired for its bold and beautiful coloration. It has bands of rings of red, black, yellow or white color surrounding the body.

Snakes are coldblooded animals and their lives are ruled by the outside temperature: they can only be active when their bodies are heated up by sunlight.

There are more than 162 snake species in Costa Rica, of which 22 are poisonous. Despite their bad reputation the chances of actually seeing a venomous snake are very thin. They are not only inactive and they move only during the night time, but also difficult to spot for the amateur eye.

There are two major groups of venomous snakes in Costa Rica: Coral Snakes and Pit Vipers. Pit vipers include the notorious. Pit vipers can be noticed through their triangular head that sticks noticeably out of the body. Their venom breaks down tissue near the bite location and can affect the nervous system.

Colubrids are the most common snakes. It is difficult to distinguish them, but the main difference is that they do not have venom-injecting fangs on the upper jaw. Mostly, they have long and slender bodies that enable them to live on trees.

Coral snakes are of bright colors. They have short fangs at the front of the mouth and their venom is toxic to the nervous system. Very often, however, the snake’s bite is “dry”, i.e. no poison is injected with the bite (this is due to the long time it takes to produce the venom. Experienced snakes know that humans are too big to eat; if snakes waste their poison on such a species they might have to spend the next couple of days without food – until new venom is produced).

The coral snake is a secretive snake; it prefers to remain underground most of the time either in holes dug by other animals or inside rocks and crevices, in logs, tree trunks or under rotting leaves in the rainforests. Generally nocturnal in nature, comes out at night time to catch the prey .It also comes out during rainy season and breeding time. It is found in the dry forests and rainforests of Costa Rica.

The coral snake is carnivorous. It eats mice, lizards, small snakes, nestling birds and amphibians. It swallows the victim whole. It holds the victim first and then bites it unlike the pet vipers which allow the victim to go free.

The mating season is different for different species. The female one lays two to eighteen eggs at a time and the young one hatch within two months.

Thecoral snake is not aggressive in nature and usually does not attack unless provoked. But when it feels threatened it curves the tail into a tight spiral and shows its anger. A pair of short fangs is attached at the front of the mouth on the upper jaw which release venom. The bite contains powerful neurotoxin venom. So the bite results in the paralysis of the victim or stopping the respiratory system from working properly. Though it rarely bites humans, it is still regarded as one of the most venomous snakes in the world.

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