Difference Between Milk Snakes and Coral Snakes

Difference Between Milk Snakes and Coral Snakes

Because it is considered very safe, the milk snake is one of the world’s most popular snakes to keep as a pet.

However, because they have similar features, It is important to know the difference between milk snakes and coral snakes because it is easy to get confused since people tend to mistake a milk snake for a coral snake or vice versa.

What Are the Differences Between Milk Snakes and Coral Snakes?

Milk snakes have red bands on both sides with black rings, whereas coral snakes have red bands on both sides with yellow rings.

Milk snakes are non-venomous, whereas coral snakes are venomous. Coral snakes are also much larger than milk snakes, typically less than three feet long.

Confusion between these snakes could be highly harmful, especially if you seek a pet snake. This is because one is venomous while the other is not.

As a result, unlike milk snakes, which are simpler to handle, handling the venomous coral snake requires tremendous care and attention.

When visiting a pet store, you should have a basic understanding of snake species to help you decide what to buy.

Characteristics of Milk Snakes and Coral Snakes

1. Appearance


The milk snake is a gorgeous and colorful species of snake that can be found in many distinct color variations. The majority of milk snakes, on the other hand, have bands of color that alternate.

These hues typically have a pattern that is white-black-red or red-black-yellow in appearance. However, certain species of milk snakes do not have bands but blotches, which are some of the characteristics that are relatively widespread in most snake species worldwide.

Coral snake

Because of how eerily similar the milk snake and the coral snake look, this is typically the moment where things start to become very confusing.

In fact, there have been instances where individuals have put themselves in danger by mistaking a coral snake for a milk snake.

Because of this, it should come as no surprise that the appearance of a coral snake is comparable to that of a milk snake.

Coral snakes, like milk snakes, have red, yellow, and black bands. However, coral snakes have a pattern that goes red-yellow-black, in which the yellow bands will always touch the red bands.

On the other hand, milk snakes have yellow and red bands divided by black bands.

2. Venom


Another important feature when exploring the difference between milk snakes and coral snakes is the venom. The milk snake is a non-venomous snake that does not have fangs or venom sacs, making it one of the safest pets to keep for many families and people interested in reptiles.

This is one of the reasons why the milk snake is considered one of the safest pet snakes to keep. Milk snakes are often calm and submissive snakes that one may handle easily. However, they may become difficult to handle if under extreme stress.

Because of this, they have a lower rate of biting compared to the majority of other snakes. Even if a milk snake bites you, the bite is typically painless and unlikely to cause bleeding due to the milk snake’s small teeth, which are not easily capable of breaking the skin.

Coral snake

You need to be aware of the difference between milk snakes and coral snakes because the coral snake is a venomous species.

Venomous snakes have a venom sac and fangs connected to the sac so they can deliver their venom to their prey. The milk snake does not have either of these features.

Coral snakes, on the other hand, have very short fangs, making it difficult for them to deliver their venom effectively.

This indicates that when they bite, they tend to hang onto their victim while they chew in order to be able to administer a greater quantity of their venom.

The venom of a coral snake is incredibly potent and ranked as the world’s second most lethal venom.

The difficulty, however, is that coral snakes have inefficient venom delivery systems, which prevents them from injecting a sufficient amount of venom into a victim to put them in immediate danger.

However, this can still lead to a number of issues, any one of which has the potential to make a person sick. This includes sensations of numbness, drooling, nausea, and vomiting.

It is pretty uncommon for a person to pass away due to a bite from a coral snake; however, this can occur if not treated immediately. For this reason, it is imperative that you seek medical attention if a coral snake bites you.

3. Size


Because they rarely reach lengths of more than 60 inches, milk snakes are among the shortest of all snake species. In reality, most milk snakes are less than three feet in length.

The fact that these snakes are on the smaller side makes them ideal candidates for keeping as pets in the home because they do not require huge enclosures.

Because of its small size, the milk snake is an excellent choice for handling because it is neither too heavy nor too oversized for anyone to manage on their own.

Coral snake

Compared to some of the bigger venomous snakes found worldwide, the coral snake is a relatively harmless species.

Coral snakes, on the other hand, typically measure more than ten feet in length and are significantly longer and larger than milk snakes. Their average length is at least three feet.

When compared side by side, coral snakes typically outcompete the milk snake in size, even though the difference between milk snakes and coral snakes may not be immediately apparent at first.

4. Habitat


There are a significant number of distinct subspecies of milk snakes because of their widespread distribution around the globe and their ability to adapt to various environments.

These snakes thrive in heavily wooded locations and heavily populated areas. This is because snakes have a tendency to follow humans.

After all, human populations attract rodents. Milk snakes also reside on rocky slopes, and the habitats that each subspecies of milk snake prefers might be quite different from one another.

Coral snake

Even though there are a great number of subspecies of coral snakes, they are located in a much more restricted range than other types of snakes.

Because of its preference for temperate climates, you will find this snake species in locations like Arizona, Texas, Florida, and other states in the southwestern United States.

Coral snakes, like other types of snakes, like remaining in forested jungle settings, often hiding in burrows or heaps of leaves.

It is, therefore, highly improbable that you will come across a coral snake if you do not reside in temperate regions and instead call the arctic or subarctic regions home.

5. Temperament and Behavior


Regarding their disposition, milk snakes make great pets since they are responsive to being handled and are not likely to become aggressive toward the person holding them. This makes them an ideal choice for people who want to keep snakes as pets.

Milk snakes will only show aggressive behavior in extremely rare circumstances, such as when they have learned to associate your hand with food or under extreme stress, such as when they are shedding their skin or on defense. As a result, you shouldn’t place too much emphasis on your concerns over the milk snake.

Coral snake

The good news about coral snakes is that they are not among the most aggressive venomous snakes in the world. They are only likely to attack humans when they defend themselves or feel threatened by humans.

Because coral snakes are not as aggressive as their other poisonous relatives, they are responsible for just around one percent of the snake bites that occur in the United States.

However, because all snakes may become highly protective when disturbed, it is not a good idea to attempt to catch or capture the coral snake on your own.

This is true even if the coral snake is not an aggressive species. Because of the potency of the venom that coral snakes produce, they will bite if they feel threatened, which can put you at serious risk.

6. Diet & Enclosure


Knowing the difference between milk snakes and coral snakes diet and enclosure is important if you plan on keeping any of these two snakes as a pet.

Coral snakes and milk snakes have extremely comparable nutrient requirements in their diets. In the wild, they consume amphibians, birds, rodents, and other species of snakes.

Milk snake hatchlings can consume pinkie mice, also known as newborn mice, while milk snake adults can consume adult mice and even adult rats. On average, you should aim to provide your adult milk snake with food once every seven days.

Milk snakes, unlike coral snakes, are not dangerous to handle. On the other hand, this does not necessarily imply that they will not be defensive at the beginning.

When handling your snake, exercise caution to avoid getting bitten, and make sure to support the animal throughout its entirety so that you don’t accidentally drop it.

When your snake has reached the point where it is comfortable being handled by you, you can remove it from its enclosure and place it in a separate tub so you can feed it. Your snake will be better able to predict when it will get fed if you do this.

The enclosure you provide for your milk snake should be at least three feet long. Because of their potential size, milk snakes require an enclosure that provides plenty of space to roam freely.

The temperature of the enclosure should be between 60 and 32 degrees Celsius (140 and 100 degrees Fahrenheit). If you provide a heating pad, you can keep the temperature in the enclosure at the ideal level.

Coral snake

Coral snakes, like other snakes, are carnivores. In the wild, they will consume prey such as lizards, frogs, birds, and even other snakes. In captivity, a coral snake will consume mice as a food item.

It is unnecessary for the mice you feed your snake to be alive unless you have difficulties getting your snake to eat.

Feeding your coral snake every day is not required because, in the wild, they have adapted to survive for several weeks without food. Therefore, you do not need to feed your coral snake every day.

To provide your coral snake with adequate space for movement, its habitat should be at least 20 to 30 gallons in capacity.

Because coral snakes enjoy the ability to conceal themselves, it is important to furnish their enclosure with lots of covers, such as branches, leaves, and gravel.

Because these snakes are expert escape artists, you need to ensure the cage is secure; having a poisonous snake running around your house might be bad news, particularly if you have children or other family members around.

One must maintain the temperature of the cage between 77 and 90 degrees Fahrenheit at all times. Because snakes are cold-blooded creatures that stop eating when the temperature is too low outside, it is vital to ensure that the temperature within the enclosure your snake resides in is suitable.

You should also maintain the lighting in the cage such that it mimics typical daylight patterns, with approximately 10 to 12 hours of light and no light at all during the night.

Only people with knowledge and adequate experience with snakes should attempt to keep coral snakes. Because children may not always comprehend boundaries, and because a coral snake bite can be fatal, one shouldn’t keep them in households with children.

Rundown of the difference between milk snakes and coral snakes

Let’s have a look at the primary difference between milk snakes and coral snakes now that you have a better understanding of both of these species.

This will make it much simpler for you to distinguish between the two anytime you come across a snake that may resemble the milk snake.

To begin, the coral snake has red bands bordered by yellow bands, and the yellow bands contact the red bands. This is not the same as the milk snake, which has bands of red touched by bands of black around it.

In contrast to the head of a milk snake, which is typically lighter in color, the head of a coral snake is usually dark brown or black.

In addition, a milk snake may have blotches rather than bands occasionally, whereas a coral snake will always have bands on its body. This can happen at any moment.

Milk snakes are the smaller of the two snakes, even though coral snakes may give the impression at first glance that they are the larger of the two.

If you compare their lengths in inches, however, you will find that the coral snake is far longer than the milk snake.

Milk snakes are harmless, non-venomous snakes that can be safely kept as pets because they present little to no risk to a person’s life.

The same cannot be said for the coral snake because this particular snake possesses a rather deadly venom that, in the worst-case scenario, may jeopardize a person’s life.

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