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Deadly Coral Snakes and Other Poisonous Snakes in Texas

Updated on September 1, 2017
Peggy W profile image

Learning about the fellow creatures that share the planet with us is always of interest to me.

Coral Snake
Coral Snake | Source

Be on the Alert!

There are only four dangerous types of snakes that inhabit parts of the United States.

The coral snake is the most deadly of all four.

The others are copperheads, rattlesnakes and cottonmouths which are also known as water moccasins.

We have all four of these poisonous snakes in Texas. Aren't we the lucky ones! Haha!

Coral snakes, scarlet king snakes and milk snakes can look quite similar but if there is any yellow coloration with red touching yellow beware!

There is an old saying which goes like this: “Red touches yellow, kill a fellow. Red touch black, friend of Jack.”

Coral snake closeup
Coral snake closeup | Source

I am not sure who came up with that rhyme but if it or variations of it serve to identify the poisonous coral snake and a person remembers it because of the rhyme, then it serves a good purpose.

Coral snakes also have black noses.

This video above shows the nonpoisonous scarlet king snake.

Most of the time coral snakes hide under the ground in burrows or in places like piles of leaves.

They are most active at night or early mornings. They are reclusive and only attack if feeling as though they are threatened.

Coral Snakes

If they attack these particular snakes latch on to their subjects and the neurotoxins seep into the wound causing respiratory and cardiac arrest.

Because few people are killed each year by coral snakes, the cost of producing antivenin is becoming prohibitive. That is scary!

So with a serious shortage of antivenum available, it pays to know what coral snakes look like. It also pays to avoid startling them in the wild if stumbling upon them by accident.

There are different types of coral snakes living in Florida, Texas and Arizona but all of them are equally deadly to a person being bitten by them.

Watch the video above to see the dangerous coral snake in Florida and the comparison of a non deadly milk snake.

USA Coral Snake Range

Three species of coral snake are found in the United States.
Three species of coral snake are found in the United States. | Source

Safety Measures and Precautions

Normally unless feeling threatened most snakes shy away from people. That is good but there are still some common sense things which can be done to avoid snake encounters.

Snakes usually like to hide under brush, fallen leaves, fallen logs, rock outcroppings or burrows of some type. So obviously it pays to keep debris piles from building up around one's home.

If hiking out in a wooded area, be careful if stepping over things like logs where you cannot see where you might be stepping. Wearing sturdy shoes or boots are some protection.

Be extra careful and stay alert if walking along waterways. Supposedly water moccasins can be quite aggressive and even chase people. Yikes!

Notice the white open mouth of the cottonmouth aka water moccasin.
Notice the white open mouth of the cottonmouth aka water moccasin. | Source

Tromping with heavy footsteps can ward off snakes since they feel vibrations in the ground.

I used to think that making verbal noise helped but apparently that is a false assertion. So whistle or sing while you walk if you wish but only if it pleases you.

Western Diamondback Rattlesnake Photo

Notice the rattle on the tail?  You will definitely hear it if you get close enough to a rattlesnake that feels threatened!
Notice the rattle on the tail? You will definitely hear it if you get close enough to a rattlesnake that feels threatened! | Source

Photos of the other 3 poisonous snakes in Texas are shown here for identification purposes.

My mother once had some copperheads in the shrubbery around her home. They were discovered by some workmen who were installing new siding on her house. They killed the snakes. Most often if snakes are in the wild it is best to leave them alone.

One thing we were told and I have used it to good effect. Apparently snakes do not like the smell of mothballs.

Even though it was just some type of non-poisonous snake hanging out in our garden, I put out mothballs and the snake went elsewhere.

I know that snakes serve a valuable purpose. It is less likely that rodents will be hanging around the same area where a snake lives. That being said I cannot help myself in hearing an involuntary shriek every time I see a snake up close in our yard. So I always have mothballs as a defense. Fortunately I have only had to haul out that arsenal a few times.

In reading about what repels snakes, some people think that the mothball idea is bogus. All I know is that it has personally worked for us.

Photo of a Copperhead Snake

Photo of a Copperhead Snake
Photo of a Copperhead Snake | Source

Poisonous Snakes

Which of these snakes do you have where you live?

See results

Thank heavens we do not have to worry about these giant snakes living here in the wild as portrayed in the video below.

Did you learn anything new about snakes after reading this?

See results

© 2016 Peggy Woods

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    • Peggy W profile imageAUTHOR

      Peggy Woods 

      5 months ago from Houston, Texas

      Hi Patricia,

      Like you, I admire the colors of snakes from afar. I shy away from all of them and hopefully they will always do the same should we ever meet up close.

    • pstraubie48 profile image

      Patricia Scott 

      5 months ago from sunny Florida

      As I mentioned in another article of yours about snakes I am not a fan of them. However I do find them beautiful. Knowing about venomous snakes makes us more wary when out hiking which my friends and I do often. thanks once again for sharing this with us. Angels are headed your way bringing blessings and hugs and love this morning ps

    • Peggy W profile imageAUTHOR

      Peggy Woods 

      11 months ago from Houston, Texas

      Hi Nell,

      I agree that the coral snake is pretty but also deadly. I have never personally seen one in the wild although I know that they are out there.

    • Nell Rose profile image

      Nell Rose 

      11 months ago from England

      Phew! that guy kept getting bitten by the safe one! but its a great thing to remember, the red touches yellow etc! so pretty though for something so deadly!

    • Peggy W profile imageAUTHOR

      Peggy Woods 

      17 months ago from Houston, Texas

      Hi Jill,

      Like you, I would not want to stick around long enough for an in depth study of whether that coastal plain milk snake was poisonous or not. I would exit quickly from that scene.

    • The Dirt Farmer profile image

      Jill Spencer 

      17 months ago from United States

      We have coastal plain milk snakes here, which are harmless but look a lot like coral snakes. It's hard to remember that rhyme when you walk right into one!

    • Peggy W profile imageAUTHOR

      Peggy Woods 

      18 months ago from Houston, Texas

      Hi Mary,

      Wow! If we were neighbors I would definitely call upon your husband to help remove snakes from our yard. Even garden snakes give me a scare. I know that they are good but I would just as soon they live elsewhere. Fortunately I have never spotted a coral snake in our garden or yard. My mother did have some copperheads where she used to live.

    • Blond Logic profile image

      Mary Wickison 

      18 months ago from Brazil

      We have the coral snake where we live in Brazil. The neighbors know my husband is in to snakes and call him over to remove boas and others from their garden.

    • Peggy W profile imageAUTHOR

      Peggy Woods 

      2 years ago from Houston, Texas

      Hi Susie,

      Nice not to have to worry about poisonous snakes where you live. I agree that some snakes are absolutely beautiful with the color variations. Since we have so many poisonous ones down here...I just shy away from them when possible.

    • colorfulone profile image

      Susie Lehto 

      2 years ago from Minnesota

      The only reason I do not mind snakes here in the northland is because they are not poison snakes. Some colorful snakes sure are beautiful creatures though, its amazing how they get around so fast on their bellies.

    • Peggy W profile imageAUTHOR

      Peggy Woods 

      2 years ago from Houston, Texas

      Hi Robert,

      That is good advice. I'm not one who would need that warning as I would automatically go the other way if confronted with a snake.

    • Robert Sacchi profile image

      Robert Sacchi 

      2 years ago

      Yes, the best advise with snakes is if you don't know for sure keep your distance.

    • Peggy W profile imageAUTHOR

      Peggy Woods 

      2 years ago from Houston, Texas

      Hi Robert,

      That was good thinking on your cousin's part. Good thing that snake was not poisonous.

    • Robert Sacchi profile image

      Robert Sacchi 

      2 years ago

      Years ago my cousin, who was about 12 at the time, got bitten by a snake. He had the presence of mind to bring the snake back to where they were staying. This shocked him mother. There was someone around who knew a lot about snakes and told my aunt it wasn't poisonous.

    • Peggy W profile imageAUTHOR

      Peggy Woods 

      2 years ago from Houston, Texas

      Hi Robert,

      Agreed. Good to know the generalities in any case particularly if in the unlucky position of being bitten. At least one can report to health care personnel as to what the snake might have been. Could make a difference in the treatment.

    • Robert Sacchi profile image

      Robert Sacchi 

      2 years ago

      I guess a good thing to remember about color patterns is they are good general rules but don't bet the farm on it or you might buy the farm :-)

    • Peggy W profile imageAUTHOR

      Peggy Woods 

      2 years ago from Houston, Texas

      Hi Robert,

      That is a shame if the color is not 100% reliable. In my particular case it would not matter as I would shy away from any kind of snake no matter what color it happens to be. They can go their way...and I'll go mine. Ha!

    • Robert Sacchi profile image

      Robert Sacchi 

      2 years ago

      An informative article. I remember reading an article that the color pattern of the coral snake isn't 100% reliable. Some of them have non standard color patterns.

    • Peggy W profile imageAUTHOR

      Peggy Woods 

      2 years ago from Houston, Texas

      Hi agusfanani,

      I hop on in to HubPages when I have time. Sometimes a few days go by when I get busy doing other things. Wishing you a wonderful day also. :)

    • agusfanani profile image

      agusfanani 

      2 years ago from Indonesia

      Hi Peggy W,

      No problem. Thank you for your explanation. Have a beautiful day !:))

    • Peggy W profile imageAUTHOR

      Peggy Woods 

      2 years ago from Houston, Texas

      Hi Austinstar,

      Wow! Bob was very fortunate that he was not bitten by that coral snake. You probably feel lucky as well as it might not have turned out so well. Good thing he was alert to the fact of it being a coral snake and took immediate action to dispatch it. Take care!

    • Peggy W profile imageAUTHOR

      Peggy Woods 

      2 years ago from Houston, Texas

      Hi agusfanani,

      Sorry for the late response. I have been busy on my own website and am behind on my comments for this site. That is a shame that performer did not realize the danger of working with cobra snakes and died because of being bitten by one. I have to approve the comments before they go live which is why your first one did not show up.

    • Peggy W profile imageAUTHOR

      Peggy Woods 

      2 years ago from Houston, Texas

      Hi FlourishAnyway,

      You have certainly had some encounters with poisonous snakes up close and personal. Glad the outcomes were good. You were obviously lucky! That just proves that no matter where a person lives there is always the possibility of encountering snakes...unless one lives in Ireland. Maybe there are also some other islands somewhere that do not have snakes. :)

    • Peggy W profile imageAUTHOR

      Peggy Woods 

      2 years ago from Houston, Texas

      Hi Genna,

      The only snakes I have ever spotted on our property in Houston were the non-poisonous types and those times were rare...fortunately. I am also afraid of them even though I know they serve a good purpose. As to leaving Texas...I love living here so I will put up with the possibility of snakes. Living here in the city they are less likely than out in the country.

    • Peggy W profile imageAUTHOR

      Peggy Woods 

      2 years ago from Houston, Texas

      Hi Frank,

      You are right in that most snakes would rather avoid encounters with us. But better to be safe rather than sorry!

    • Peggy W profile imageAUTHOR

      Peggy Woods 

      2 years ago from Houston, Texas

      Hi Au fait,

      Yes...we certainly have our fair share of "critters" here in Texas. The heat has definitely started. High 80's up to 90 degrees. With the humidity that is hot. We still have a lot of standing water left over from the recent floods. Some major roads still closed to traffic. Appreciate the share.

    • agusfanani profile image

      agusfanani 

      2 years ago from Indonesia

      Hi Peggy W,

      I think I've given my comments on this hub but I don't what happened that I can't see it. There are several poisonous snakes in my country, Javanese cobra and zebra patterned snakes are two examples to mention. Snakes are hated as well as liked by people, your story reminds me to a female singer who died because she was bitten by her partner on stage, a Javanese cobra. Ironically she didn't realize the danger of the bite until she was hopeless and died one hour after the incident. Thank you for your interesting story Peggy w.

    • Peggy W profile imageAUTHOR

      Peggy Woods 

      2 years ago from Houston, Texas

      Kiss andTales,

      Thanks for the compliment. Better to be aware than not when it comes to poisonous snakes.

    • Austinstar profile image

      Lela 

      2 years ago from Somewhere near the center of Texas

      Wow Peggy, what a timely hub! Bob just stepped on a coral snake in our back yard! He chopped it up with a shovel. But it did almost bite him!

    • Peggy W profile imageAUTHOR

      Peggy Woods 

      2 years ago from Houston, Texas

      Hi Jackie,

      You were indeed lucky that you were not bitten by that copperhead if you were that close to it. Appreciate the share.

    • agusfanani profile image

      agusfanani 

      2 years ago from Indonesia

      Hi Peggy W,

      Here we have several poisonous snakes . Cobra and zebra-patterned snakes are two popular names as examples. There was a female singer bitten by a cobra which happened on the stage she'd done her performance. The cobra was her partner in doing the job. She didn't realize the danger and got no medical treatment after the biting which caused her to die one hour later.

    • FlourishAnyway profile image

      FlourishAnyway 

      2 years ago from USA

      About two years ago I was hiking in a park down near the river and it was a sunny morning. My daughter and husband were both off trail and I was following. They had stepped over a fallen tree easily but I almost put my hand directly on a moccasin that was sunning itself on the tree. I about pooped my pants it gave me the sillies so bad. As a child I had a similar experience in almost stepping on a huge copperhead that crossed my path. Maybe I should stay indoors. Glad I don't live in Texas! Virginia is bad enough snake country!

    • Genna East profile image

      Genna East 

      2 years ago from Massachusetts, USA

      Oops, I stand corrected. Hubby just informed me that we have two in New England, although they are rare: The Timber Rattlesnake and the Copperhead. I've never seen a snake on our property of any kind. (Skunks are another matter). But I'm buying mothballs tomorrow!

    • Genna East profile image

      Genna East 

      2 years ago from Massachusetts, USA

      Mothballs. Who knew? Reptiles and rodents give me the chilly willies. Poisonous snakes literally petrify me. Thank goodness the workers found those copperheads hiding underneath the shrubbery at your mother's house before she did. It's odd that Texas has all 4 species of these nasty little critters. We don't have them in New England. And I had no idea the Cottonmouth was in the US. Peg, if I lived in Texas, I would move after discovering this. Seriously. :-( This is such an interesting hub.

    • Peggy W profile imageAUTHOR

      Peggy Woods 

      2 years ago from Houston, Texas

      Hi AliciaC,

      Snakes are interesting and many of them are quite beautiful. That being said I will happily view them from afar. Nice that you do not have to worry about any poisonous ones in your area of Canada.

    • Frank Atanacio profile image

      Frank Atanacio 

      2 years ago from Shelton

      Snakes are complexed creatures.. and I learned something new here today about the snakes in other parts.. we have the Copperheads.. but I find if you leave them alone they leave you alone.. we have many trails here.. but they don't attack if you just walk by.. so far.. I think :)

    • Peggy W profile imageAUTHOR

      Peggy Woods 

      2 years ago from Houston, Texas

      Hi Kaili Bisson,

      Nice that you only have the one type of rattlesnake where you live and even better...the fact that you have never run across one. Thanks for your comment.

    • Au fait profile image

      C E Clark 

      2 years ago from North Texas

      Texas does have a lot of poisonous critters. Seems like it's full of briars and thorns and nettle and vicious little creatures like fire ants, wasps, recluse spiders, water moccasins, and coral snakes just to name a few. Only Australia has more nasty critters than Texas

      Excellent and informative article as always, and great photos. Sharing with my followers and pinned to Awesome HubPages.

      Hope you are well and preparing for the heat which is surly just around the corner by now.

    • Peggy W profile imageAUTHOR

      Peggy Woods 

      2 years ago from Houston, Texas

      Hi Austinstar,

      I am sure people on ranches have more occasion to see these poisonous snakes than the rest of us who live in cities. What you wrote about the centipedes was interesting. Apparently they are widespread in Greece also. I learned that from my neighbor who spent much of her childhood visiting her grandmother there. As to the scorpions...be safe!

    • Kiss andTales profile image

      Kiss andTales 

      2 years ago

      Thank your hub is important even to face a fear people may one day experience. You are a good writer in more then one way .thank you for sharing

    • Peggy W profile imageAUTHOR

      Peggy Woods 

      2 years ago from Houston, Texas

      Hello Kiss andTales,

      What an interesting story! Yes...some people are like that also...sadly.

    • Jackie Lynnley profile image

      Jackie Lynnley 

      2 years ago from The Beautiful South

      I have always used the mothballs too and I once had a copperheads mouth right against my bare foot. It was heavy with eggs I guess is all that saved me from being bitten but my husband killed it and I cannot say I am sorry! I mean snakes just keep breeding and multiplying and I cannot see why we need them. The poisonous ones anyway. lol

      Great fun hub. Shared.

    • Peggy W profile imageAUTHOR

      Peggy Woods 

      2 years ago from Houston, Texas

      Hello norlawrence,

      I can admire snakes from afar but avoid them like the plague if anywhere nearby. Hopefully we will never have to encounter a poisonous one. They can obviously do great harm to pets as well as people.

    • AliciaC profile image

      Linda Crampton 

      2 years ago from British Columbia, Canada

      I'm very lucky that there are no venomous snakes where I live, although there are rattlesnakes elsewhere in the province. I've remembered the first part of the saying about coral snakes that you quote ever since I first heard it, even though I'm not likely to encounter one of these animals in real life. I enjoyed reading all the information that you shared. I think that all snakes are interesting, even the dangerous ones!

    • Kaili Bisson profile image

      Kaili Bisson 

      2 years ago from Canada

      Hi Peggy...very informative. We have the Eastern Massasauga rattlesnake here, but I have never encountered one. They tend to live in one part of the province only, which is a good thing!

    • Austinstar profile image

      Lela 

      2 years ago from Somewhere near the center of Texas

      I have run up on Cotton mouths a couple of times. Bob has found several Coral snakes here on the ranch, and one rattlesnake made an appearance in the 24 years we have been here.

      In Hawaii, it was centipedes. They were everywhere and they actually bite. We had quite a few tourists coming to the hospital for centipede bites.

      I won't mess with snakes if they don't mess with me or my pets. But they seem to be increasing in numbers, especially in the Spring.

      What I really hate are all the scorpions out here in the HIll Country around Austin!

    • Kiss andTales profile image

      Kiss andTales 

      2 years ago

      Very interesting animal . I was reading about an India woman who owned a small python .the story goes like this she would feed him his regular habitat food which mice would be in the diet. But this changed and he just would not eat nothing. She became worried sonce since he refuse to eat but he would rest beside her as usual with affection .

      So she worried to the point of going to the animal vet specialist. He asked about the habits and movement .

      He told her the reason he was not eating was because he had sized her up to feed on . his movement as laying straight was like a measuring stick , his circurling her meant the same. He would not eat because he need room to digest her.

      So the story ends It did not say what she did after that info.

      But it was a moral to the true story beware of people who will cling to you size you up only waiting for the right time to devour you.

      Wise words.

      I had to share this with your hub on the subject of danger.

      Thanks for your informitive hub on these creatures.

    • norlawrence profile image

      Norma Lawrence 

      2 years ago from California

      Great article. I do not like snakes but your article was very good with a lot of information. It was presnted very well. The pictures were awesome.

      Thanks

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