Topic Overview

Coral snakes are found in tropical regions of North America and are often confused with nonpoisonous (nonvenomous) milk snakes because they look similar.

A coral snake can be up to 3 ft (1 m) long and has:

  • Red, yellow, and black bands along the length of the body.
  • Round pupils and a black nose.
  • Fangs. Coral snakes tend to chew on their victims for a few seconds and may leave tooth marks with or without fang marks.

At first, mild pain may be the only symptom of a coral snake bite. Within 90 minutes, a feeling of weakness or numbness may occur in the bitten extremity.

Other symptoms may appear up to 12 to 24 hours after a bite. Symptoms may include:

  • Increased salivation and drooling.
  • Drowsiness or euphoria.
  • Slurred speech.
  • Nausea and vomiting.
  • Numbness and tingling (paresthesia).

Symptoms that occur less often include double vision, trouble breathing, sweating, muscle aches, and confusion. In rare cases, a person may die from a coral snake bite.

If you think you have been bitten by a coral snake, call 911 or other emergency services immediately.

Related Information


ByHealthwise Staff
Primary Medical Reviewer William H. Blahd, Jr., MD, FACEP - Emergency Medicine
Specialist Medical Reviewer Sean P. Bush, MD, FACEP - Emergency Medicine, Envenomation Specialist

Current as ofSeptember 9, 2014