coral snake

1. any of numerous venomous elapid snakes, found chiefly in the New World tropics, as Micrurus fulvius (eastern coral snake), of the southeastern U.S., often brilliantly marked with bands of red, yellow, and black.
2. any of several other snakes, as of the genus Calliophis, of Asia, having red markings.

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Any of about 90 species of strongly patterned burrowing elapids.

"True" forms are limited to the New World, chiefly the tropics, but similar species live in Asia and Africa. Secretive and docile, coral snakes rarely bite when handled, but the venom of some can kill a person. Most prey on other snakes. More than 50 species in the largest genus, Micrurus, range from the southern U.S. to Argentina. They are ringed with red, black, and yellow or white. The eastern coral snake, or harlequin snake (Micrurus fulvius), ranges from North Carolina and Missouri in the U.S. to northeastern Mexico and is about 30 in. (76 cm) long, with wide bands of red and black separated by yellow. The rhyme "Red on yellow, dangerous fellow" distinguishes it from similarly coloured but harmless species.

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 any of about 90 species of small, secretive, and brightly patterned venomous snakes of the cobra family (Elapidae (elapid)). New World coral snakes range in size from 40 to 160 cm (16 to 63 inches) and are classified in three different genera; they are found mainly in the tropics. Five additional genera of related snakes live in Asia and Africa. Most species are tricoloured (rarely bicoloured), with various combinations of red, black, and yellow or white rings; width of the rings varies. All have thin cylindrical bodies, smooth scales, and a short tail. Short hollow fangs deliver a potent neurotoxic venom.

      Sixty-five species of American coral snakes (genus Micrurus) range from the southern United States to Argentina. Only two species live in the United States. The eastern coral snake, or harlequin snake (M. fulvius), is about a metre (3.3 feet) long and has wide red and black rings separated by narrow rings of yellow. The Arizona coral snake (Micruroides euryxanthus) is a small (40–50-cm) inhabitant of the American Southwest. The rhyme “Red on yellow, kill a fellow, red on black, venom lack” distinguishes coral snakes from similar North American snakes. There are 50 genera of coral snake mimics such as false coral snakes (see king snake and scarlet snake), and nearly one-third of all American species have some coral snake pattern.

      Most coral snakes prey on other snakes, particularly worm snakes and blind snakes, with lizards being a secondary food source. New World coral snakes lay from 1 to 13 eggs. The longevity record for Micrurus in captivity is 18 years.

      Coral snakes belong to the family Elapidae (elapid), which also includes cobras and various other venomous snakes. Old World coral snakes include eight species of Calliophis and five species of Sinomicrurus in Asia, plus the single Hemibungarus species of the Philippines. In the two East Indian (East Indies) species of Maticora, the venom glands extend more than one-third of the way down the body. Two African coral snakes (Homoroselaps) are orange, black, and yellow.

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Universalium. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Coral snake — (Micrurus sp.) Scientific classification Kingdom: Animalia …   Wikipedia

  • Coral snake — Coral Cor al, n. [Of. coral, F, corail, L. corallum, coralium, fr. Gr. kora llion.] 1. (Zo[ o]l.) The hard parts or skeleton of various Anthozoa, and of a few Hydrozoa. Similar structures are also formed by some Bryozoa. [1913 Webster] Note: The… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • coral snake — ☆ coral snake n. any of several small, poisonous, burrowing elapine snakes (genera Micrurus and Micruroides), found in the S U.S. and subtropical America, with coral red, yellow, and black bands around its body …   English World dictionary

  • coral snake — kȯr əl , kär n any of several venomous chiefly tropical New World elapid snakes of the genus Micrurus that are brilliantly banded in red, black, and yellow or white and include two (M. fulvius and M. euryxanthus) ranging northward into the… …   Medical dictionary

  • coral snake — noun 1. any of various venomous elapid snakes of Asia and Africa and Australia • Syn: ↑Old World coral snake • Hypernyms: ↑elapid, ↑elapid snake • Hyponyms: ↑Asian coral snake, ↑African coral snake, ↑ …   Useful english dictionary

  • coral snake — /ˈkɒrəl sneɪk/ (say koruhl snayk) noun 1. a small, venomous but unaggressive snake, Brachyurophis australis, of eastern Australia, red with distinctive black and yellow banding. 2. any of the brilliantly coloured venomous snakes of the genus… …   Australian English dictionary

  • coral snake — noun Date: circa 1772 1. any of several venomous chiefly tropical New World elapid snakes (genus Micrurus) brilliantly banded in red, black, and yellow or white that include two (M. fulvius and M. euryxanthus) ranging northward into the southern… …   New Collegiate Dictionary

  • coral snake — noun a brightly banded venomous snake of the cobra family. [Micrurus and other genera: numerous species.] …   English new terms dictionary

  • coral snake — cor′al snake n. ram any of several venomous elapid snakes often marked with bands of red, yellow, and black, as Micrurus fulvius, of the SE U.S …   From formal English to slang

  • coral snake — noun Any of various venomous snakes of the genera Micrurus and Micruroides, native to tropical South America and Southern USA and having bright bands of red, yellow and black …   Wiktionary

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