Here's WhyAlthough its venom is deadly potent, the Arizona Coral has a poor poison delivery system. It has a small mouth with small fangs that can hardly break human skin. It carries little venom and would have to hang-on and sustain a bite for a duration to inject enough venom to do serious harm. At about 13 to 20 inches long as an adult, it is a small snake. It is highly secretive, nocturnal and is not an aggressive snake. It will always avoid human contact.
Characteristics of the Coral SnakeThe adult coral snake is small. Its average length is 13 to 20 inches long and has brightly colored bands of black, red and yellow that encircle the body of the coral. The Scarlet King Snake, with very similar banded color is often mistaken as a coral snake. The king snake is not venomous and poses no danger to people. At an average adult length of 48 to 72 inches long, the king snake is much longer than the venomous coral.
Here's a good way to identify the coral other than size. The coral's red bands that encircle its body touch the yellow bands that also encircle its body. It has a blunt nose and its head is completely black. However, it is never wise to handle a snake unless you are absolutely sure it is not venomous. Observing wildlife is a privilege, but never harass or do harm to any wildlife.
Coral Snake Behavior and HabitatAs described above, Arizona Coral Snakes are small, shy and reclusive. Although there are exceptions, most bites only occur when the snake is handled. Coral snakes hunt by night and prefer a diet of smaller ground snakes and lizards. Their venom acts quickly upon these smaller cold-blooded creatures causing fast paralysis and respiratory failure. Coral snakes typically lay two to three eggs by the end of summer. After approximately ten weeks, the young snakes hatch.
Western coral snakes live in Arizona's and northern Mexico's Sonoran Desert. They are often found in rocky locales where Saguaro cacti are present. They prefer the cool microcosm of life under rocks where they are not likely to encounter much company. They may even bury themselves in sand or soil. Because they are nocturnal creatures, they are seldom seen in the wild. If they are seen during daylight, it is usually during overcast days or after daytime rain.