Western Coral Snake
Body length: 13 - 21"
Diet: Lizards and small snakes
Venom from this species, released from fixed fangs in the front of the mouth, is highly toxic. Although no human fatalities have been attributed to coral snakes in Arizona, probably because of their small size and generally unaggressive nature, they should be left alone and never handled.
Coral snakes are seldom seen here, but they are probably not uncommon. Spending most of their time underground, they feed primarily on other fossorial snakes such as blind and ground snakes. When encountered above ground, coral snakes exhibit a strange array of anti-predator behaviors, including hiding the head and using the tail as a decoy to "strike" at the predator. Coral snakes also make a sound by releasing air from their rear vent, a practice politely described by scientists as "cloacal popping".
Did You Know?
The first known written record of the cliff dwellings at Tonto National Monument dates from 1880. Archeologist Adolph Bandelier visited the dwellings in 1883, and said they were some of the best preserved he had ever seen. More...