Coral Snake vs Kingsnake: 6 Key Differences Explained

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Coral Snake vs Kingsnake are both venomous and nonvenomous snakes found in the Americas, but they are easily distinguished by their physical characteristics and color patterns.

Coral snakes have brightly colored bands of red, yellow, and black around their bodies, while kingsnakes have similar banding patterns but the colors are typically less vibrant. In addition, the bands of a coral snake are arranged in a specific sequence: red touching yellow, yellow touching black. Kingsnake banding pattern, however, is not always as clear and vary depending on the species.

Coral snakes are also smaller than kingsnakes and have a potent neurotoxic venom, that could be lethal if bitten and not treated promptly. Kingsnakes, on the other hand, have mild venom and primarily hunt and kill other snakes, including venomous ones.

Coral snakes are found throughout much of the southeastern United States, while kingsnakes are found throughout the Americas, including parts of the United States, Mexico, and Central and South America.

It’s important to know the difference between a coral snake and a kingsnake if you live in an area where both are present. While both snakes are non-venomous, the coral snake has a more powerful venom, so it’s important to be able to identify them correctly. In this blog, you’ll learn about the physical and behavioral differences between a coral snake and a kingsnake.

Comparison Between Coral Snake vs Kingsnake

Coral snakes and kingsnakes are both snakes found in the Americas, but they have some notable differences in their physical characteristics, color patterns, behavior, and venom.

Coral snakeKingsnake
Physical CharacteristicsCoral snakes are smaller than kingsnakes, typically growing to around 2-3 feet in length. Coral snakes have a thin, delicate bodyKingsnakes, on the other hand, can grow to be much larger, reaching lengths of up to 6 feet. Kingsnakes have a more robust body.
Color PatternsCoral snakes have brightly colored bands of red, yellow, and black around their bodies. The banding pattern of a coral snake is arranged in a specific sequence: red touching yellow, yellow touching black.kingsnakes have similar banding patterns but the colors are typically less vibrant. In kingsnakes, the banding pattern can vary depending on the species.
BehaviorCoral snakes are generally shy and secretive, spending most of their time underground or hidden in leaf litter. They are active during the day and night.Kingsnakes, on the other hand, are active during the day and are known for being inquisitive and hardy. They are also known to be very active, especially during warmer months.
VenomCoral snakes have a potent neurotoxic venom that can cause severe neurological symptoms and even death if a bite is not treated promptly.Kingsnakes have mild venom and primarily hunt and kill other snakes, including venomous ones. They use their venom to kill their prey.
HabitatCoral snakes are found throughout much of the southeastern United States, primarily in wooded areas and pine rocklands.Kingsnakes are found throughout the Americas, including parts of the United States, Mexico, and Central and South America. They can be found in a wide range of habitats, including deserts, forests, and wetlands.
LifespanThe lifespan of a coral snake can vary depending on the species, but most species live for around 10 to 15 years in the wild.Kingsnake lifespan also vary depending on the species. Commonly they live around 15-20 years in the wild and in captivity upto 30 years.

The 6 Key Differences Between Coral Snakes & Kingsnakes

Coral snakes and kingsnakes are two species of snakes that are often confused with one another. While they may look similar, there are a few key differences between them that it’s important to be aware of. Whether you’re a snake enthusiast or just want to know more about these two species, understanding these differences can help you identify them more accurately.

Coral Snake vs King Snake Key Differences

Coral Snake vs Kingsnake: Color

Coral snakes are known for their vibrant and distinctive coloration, which typically includes bands of red, yellow, and black. The coloration pattern varies by species, but generally, the red and yellow bands are always next to each other, and the order of the colors is usually red, yellow, black, yellow, and red.

Kingsnakes, on the other hand, have a wide variety of color patterns depending on the species. Some species have banded patterns similar to coral snakes, but the colors can be different and the banding pattern is usually different. Other species of kingsnakes may have speckled, striped, or solid color patterns. Some of the most common color patterns for kingsnakes include black, grey, brown, and yellow, and also can have some patterns like stripes or speckles.

It’s important to note that while the color patterns of coral snakes and some kingsnakes may be similar, coral snakes are highly venomous while many species of kingsnakes are not.

Coral Snake vs Kingsnake: Size

Coral snakes are typically small, growing to an average length of 2-3 feet. However, some individuals can grow up to 4 feet long. They are also relatively slender snakes, with a diameter of about 1 inch. They are known for their vibrant coloration and patterns, which can vary depending on the species and location.

Kingsnakes are a diverse group of snakes and their size can vary depending on the species. In general, they are considered medium-sized snakes and can grow to be anywhere from 2-6 feet in length, with some species reaching lengths of up to 8 feet. The California Kingsnake, one of the most common species, typically grows to 3-4 feet in length. They are also relatively thick-bodied snakes.

Coral Snake vs Kingsnake: Diet

Coral snakes and kingsnakes have different diets. Coral snakes are primarily carnivorous and eat other smaller snakes, lizards, small mammals, and occasionally birds. They are known for their venomous bite which they use to subdue their prey.

Kingsnakes, on the other hand, are also carnivorous and have a varied diet that includes other snakes, lizards, rodents, birds, and eggs. They are known for their ability to eat venomous snakes, such as rattlesnakes and copperheads, without being affected by the venom. They are also constrictors, using their muscles to squeeze their prey before swallowing it whole.

Coral Snake vs Kingsnake: Habitat

Coral snakes are typically found in the southeastern and south-central regions of the United States, as well as in parts of Central and South America. They are typically found in wooded areas, but can also be found in grasslands and deserts.

Kingsnakes, on the other hand, can be found throughout the United States, as well as in parts of Canada and Mexico. They are found in a wide variety of habitats, including forests, deserts, and wetlands. They are also common in suburban and urban areas.

Coral Snake vs Kingsnake: Venom

Coral snakes have highly potent venom that can cause severe neurological symptoms, including muscle weakness, difficulty breathing, and paralysis. The venom of a coral snake is a neurotoxin, which means it attacks the nervous system. Coral snake bites are considered potentially life-threatening and medical attention should be sought as soon as possible.

Kingsnakes, on the other hand, are not venomous and do not pose a threat to humans. They are actually immune to the venom of other snakes, including coral snakes, which is why they are also known as “coral snake eaters”. They subdue their prey by constriction and then swallow it whole.

Coral Snake vs Kingsnake: Behavioral Difference

Coral snakes are generally secretive and reclusive and are not typically aggressive toward humans. They spend most of their time underground or hidden in vegetation. When threatened, they will often remain still and rely on their camouflage to avoid detection. If a coral snake feels threatened, it may bite as a last-resort defense mechanism.

Kingsnakes, on the other hand, are more active and are often seen out in the open. They are known for their aggressive behavior and will often actively hunt for prey. They are not venomous, but they are known to bite if threatened or handled roughly. They are also known to be very curious and will often investigate their environment and new objects.

Both coral snakes and kingsnakes are not commonly found in human-populated areas and are mostly found in wild.

FAQs

Is coral snake a poisonous snake?

Yes, coral snakes are poisonous. Their venom can cause paralysis and death if not treated promptly. It’s important to note that coral snakes are relatively small, and their venom is only dangerous if it’s injected into the body (usually through a bite). They are found in the Americas and are often brightly colored with bands of red, yellow, and black.

What is the survival rate of a coral snake bite?

The survival rate of a coral snake bite is high, as long as the individual receives proper medical treatment promptly. Without treatment, venom can cause paralysis and death. However, death from a coral snake bite is rare in the United States, with an estimated mortality rate of less than 5%.

With antivenom therapy and supportive care, the survival rate is greater than 95%. It’s important to note that the best way to avoid the danger of coral snake bites is to avoid the snake altogether, and if you see one stay away.

Is king snake is poisonous?

King snakes are not venomous. They are constrictors and they kill their prey by squeezing them. Some species of king snakes have the ability to mimic the coloration of venomous coral snakes as a form of mimicry which gives them some protection from predators.

They are also known for eating other snakes, including venomous species such as rattlesnakes and copperheads. King snakes are generally considered harmless to humans and make popular pets.

Why is it called a king snake?

King snakes are called such due to their ability to dominate and eat other snakes, including venomous species. They are known for their fierce reputation and their ability to overpower other snakes in the wild. The name “king snake” is thought to have originated from this behavior.

They are also known for their mimicry of coral snakes, which is a venomous snakes. This mimicry gives them some protection from predators, as they are often mistaken for the venomous species and left alone.

What is special about a king snake?

King snakes are known for several special characteristics, including:

  1. Their ability to dominate and eat other snakes, including venomous species such as rattlesnakes and copperheads.
  2. Their mimicry of venomous coral snakes – some king snakes have similar color patterns which gives them some protection from predators.
  3. Their resistance to snake venom – King snakes have a resistance to the venom of other snakes, allowing them to survive bites from venomous species.
  4. They are non-venomous and constrictors – They kill their prey by squeezing them.
  5. They are generally considered harmless to humans and make popular pets.
  6. They have a broad diet – Some species of King snakes eat a variety of prey including small mammals, birds, lizards, and other snakes.
  7. They are found in a wide range of habitats – They are found in a wide range of habitats including forests, deserts, and grasslands, and can be found in North and South America.
  8. They have a wide range of color patterns – King snakes come in a variety of colors and patterns, making them popular among snake enthusiasts.

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