Coral snakes

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Coral snakes belong to the Class Reptilia and family Elapidae. 11 species have been known under the Old World category under one genus Calliophis while 65 for the New World with three genera. They’re recognized by presence of red, white, black banding patterns over their bodies. In some regions the pattern of banding will help in differentiation of non-venomous species from the venomous ones. They are natives of North America. Those found in other parts of world have different banding patterns and in some no banding is present at all. New World coral snakes inhabit the temperate area of United States. Arizona coral snakes are distributed in the southern and western area of Arizona.

Most species of are generally small in size. The North American species do not grow more than 3 feet but specimens of 5 ft long coral snakes have been found. Aquatic species possess flat tails that act as fin during swimming. The behaviour of these snakes is variable. They are quite elusive, fossorial snakes which spend most of their time by staying buried in the ground or in the leaf litter of rainforests coming just during heavy showers of rain or during the breeding season. Some species are completely aquatic and live in slow flowing water streams with dense vegetation. They are venomous and like all elapids have fangs behaving as hypodermic needles for injecting venom into the body of their victim. The fangs remain permanently erect and are present in the peak of the upper jaw. Venom is very powerful and is injected into the body of the prey before swallowing.

They have the tendency to hold the victim after biting it. They rarely bite and less than 1% deaths are recorded by the bite of these snakes in america. New world snakes are distributed in various parts of the temperate United States particularly of the southern selection. The majority of the bite of coral snake in United States is the result of accidental contact of persons with the snake during gardening. New World snakes have the potent venom than any of the North American snake next to that of the rattle snake. 3-5 mg of venom of this organism is able to kill a human being. Most venomous snakes inject 75-100 mg venom from the body of the sufferer to cause death of prey. When struck with humans they try to run and snack very rarely just to protect them. They have short fangs incapable to permeate into leather covering. Their venom is neurotoxic affecting the nervous system of prey so heavy doses of antivenom have to in order to save victim’s life. New World snakes are known to mimic false coral snakes which are less toxic. This is a rare example of Mertensian mimicry. There are a few non-venomous species whose pattern seems to mimic with that of coral snakes.

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