Coral Snakes Vs King Snakes

Coral Snakes vs King Snakes: A Guide to Understanding the Differences

Snakes are one of the most intriguing creatures on our planet. With over 3,000 species of snakes, it can be quite challenging to differentiate between them. Two of the most interesting species of snakes are coral snakes and king snakes. They both have similar colors and patterns, but there are unique differences between them. In this article, we will take a closer look at the differences between the coral snake and king snake to help you understand them better.

Coral Snakes

Coral snakes are venomous and belong to the Elapidae family. They are usually small and slender, with bright bands of red, yellow, and black. Coral snakes can be found in the southern regions of the United States, including Florida, Louisiana, Texas, and the Carolinas.

The most distinctive feature of the coral snake is its color pattern. Coral snakes have a bright red band that is bordered by a thin yellow band and then a black band. The order of the colors is critical in differentiating coral snakes from nonvenomous snakes. The phrase “Red Touches Yellow, Kill a Fellow” is a popular saying used to distinguish coral snakes from other species.

Coral snakes are shy and elusive creatures. They prefer to hide in burrows or under debris and are not commonly seen out in the open. Coral snakes eat small prey, including lizards, frogs, and other snakes. Their venom is potent and can cause severe muscle weakness, respiratory failure, and even death in humans.

King Snakes

King snakes are nonvenomous and belong to the Colubridae family. They are typically larger than coral snakes and have a broader head. King snakes have distinct bands of black and white or brown and yellow. They can be found throughout the continental United States and parts of Northern Mexico.

King snakes are active hunters and feed on a variety of prey, including rodents, amphibians, birds, and other snakes. They are often sought after for their ability to prey on venomous snakes, including rattlesnakes, copperheads, and water moccasins.

One of the main differences between coral snakes and king snakes is their color pattern. King snakes have a similar banding pattern to coral snakes, but their colors are in the opposite order. They have wide bands of black or brown that are separated by narrow bands of white or yellow. The order of the colored bands is the opposite of the coral snake, black touching yellow, is safe for a fellow.

Another significant difference between the two species is their behavior. King snakes are more active and visible than coral snakes. They are often encountered in suburban areas and are known to enter homes or gardens. King snakes are not venomous, but they are constrictors, which means they will wrap their bodies around prey and squeeze it to death.


Q: Can you tell the difference between a coral snake and a king snake by their head shape?
A: Yes, coral snakes have a narrow and pointed head, while king snakes have a broader, rounded head.

Q: Are all coral snakes venomous?
A: Yes, all coral snakes are venomous.

Q: Are all king snakes immune to venom?
A: No, not all king snakes are immune to venom, but some species, such as the California king snake, have developed resistance to venom from particular snakes like the rattlesnake.

Q: Can coral snakes and king snakes interbreed?
A: No, coral snakes and king snakes cannot interbreed.

Q: Are coral snakes and king snakes endangered?
A: Coral snakes are not currently on the endangered species list, but some king snake species are considered endangered due to habitat loss or degradation.


Coral snakes and king snakes are both fascinating species of snakes that have similarities and differences. Coral snakes are venomous, while king snakes are not. Coral snakes have a red-yellow-black color pattern, while king snakes have a black-white or brown-yellow pattern. Knowing the differences between the two species is vital to avoid confusion and stay safe from venomous snakes. If you encounter a snake, it is always best to leave it alone and observe from a distance to avoid potential danger.