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Baby Coral Snake on Nose

Baby Coral Snake

09.11.2006 - This is a juvenile hatchling Eastern Coral Snake. It's probably a month old at most. Whereas some snakes will constantly slither all over the place, corals will often hold still in one position*. I was in a good mood, so I decided to drape it over my nose. I sent this photo to a friend, who claimed that I must be crazy, as he had heard that the venom of juvenile snakes is more potent than that of adults. I replied that I do not think this is true. The composition of the venom does not change over the lifetime of the reptile. Although it is true that the neurotoxic venom of the Coral Snake is the most potent venom in North America by volume, a baby snake like this simply has less venom than an adult. I do not know if a full envenomation from a juvenile like this one could result in the fatality of a careless human adult. Regardless, I felt safe, because it's the delivery mechanism that really counts*. For example, a pit viper like a cottonmouth or rattlesnake, even a hatchling, is capable of easily injecting venom - they have fangs like hypodermic needles, the ability to actively inject venom, lightning speed and an aggressive nature. Coral snakes, on the other mouth, have small fixed fangs, no ability to actively inject venom (it must "drip" down grooves in the fangs to the bite area), less speed, and a non-aggressive nature. After handling this snake for a while, it appeared very docile and nose-hangworthy*. And after all, look at the mouth on that thing (the snake, not my cocksure smirk). It's too tiny to bite a fly. How is a mouth like that going to get around and through any of my gruff and tuff human skin? No way. So while a self-proclaimed responsible bloke might go about saying "don't try this at home", I actively encourage all of my readers to go out and find deadly Coral Snakes and drape them across the face. It's the reasonable thing to do*.

*often hold still in one position - especially this particular one, which was actually dead.

*I felt safe, because it's the delivery mechanism that really counts - plus, a dead snake often has rather difficulty biting, regardless of delivery mechanism (though some snakes actually can strike after death)

*it appeared very docile and nose-hangworthy - yes, most dead snakes tend to be docile.

It's the reasonable thing to do* - maybe, if the snake is, like this one, no longer living.

Yes, I wrote the above as a farce for fun.  I actually found this baby Coral Snake, which is about one month old, dead.  But it looked so nice and alive in a still-photograph, so I had some fun with my camera. Of course, no one should handle a living Coral Snake with bare hands, even if it is a baby with a tiny mouth.  The venom is extremely potent.

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Are coral snakes shy? Shy might not be the word to describe one of the most deadly snakes in North America. The coral snake is reclusive, feeding at dawn and dusk, and spending most of the time in between curled under vegetation. This doesn’t make the snake shy, it just means that it has a lifestyle not conducive to human interaction—which is a good thing. The colorful pattern of the coral snake instantly draws human attention, especially that of a child. This makes for the temptation to pick the snake up or poke it with a stick. The coral snake is not as aggressive about defending itself as the rattlesnake; however, when this snake bites it will hold on for as long as possible. Unlike the pit vipers in the region, the coral snake’s venom is transferred into the wound through seepage. The longer the snake holds on, the more venom is introduced into the system. Though death from this snake is rare since the antivenin was created, coral snakes have neurotoxic venom that inhibits proper communication of nerve endings within the body. This failure to communicate internally will eventually shut down organ function. Most people with coral snake bites do not notice symptoms until twelve hours post attack.

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