Creatures of the Amazon
The Coral Snake

By Mike Collis

Micrusus fulvius

There are 9 species of coral snakes in Peru and they are one of the most colourful snakes to be found in the Amazon Rainforest. They are also one of the deadliest, its venom is strong enough to kill in a few minutes. Coral snakes are red, yellow and black and only coral snakes have these colours in that order. So always remember this "Red and yellow you are a dead fellow, but red touches black you're alright Jack". Coral snakes can weigh up to 5 pounds and grow up to 3 feet long. In the Amazon Basin coral snakes are known by their local name "Naka Naka".

The prey of coral snakes are small mammals, birds, lizards, frogs and even other snakes. These snakes have a unique tongue which can detect and smell prey, even from a distance. Once a coral snakes bites it's victim and injects the right amount of venom it is sure that this will be the coral snake's next meal.
An interesting point: Most venomous snakes are immune to their own venom but not the coral snake, they die if bitten by another coral snake.


The color of the coral snake gives a warning to any would be predator that they will surely regret choosing this snake for lunch. Another defense mechanism is the ability to burrow very fast into the ground and making an underground hideout until the danger subsides. Other amazon snakes have adapted themselves using the same colours as the coral snake.

Coral snakes live anywhere in the rainforest from the damp dark depths of the forest floor to the sunlit forest canopy. This ability to live on the ground, in the canopy or anywhere in between displays the versatility of the coral snake.




Coral snakes usually mate in the Amazon Autumn round about the end of May or June. The females look for a mate but because most male coral snakes fear the deadly females this is no easy task. The female lays 2 or 3 eggs and a short time later the babies are born. The babies are about 7 inches long and are abandoned by the mother to fend for themselves. Although she often stays close by to fend off predators. Although the babies are quite able to protect themselves straight after birth because they are born with venom and it is usually more stronger than the adults.

All snakes should be respected and the coral deserves ours as one of the most dangerous creatures on Earth.



Give a snake a break.
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