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Although there is a certain validity in its bad repute among mankind, the coral snake does not deserve the wishes terror it usually evokes.
Its venom is indeed highly neutrotoxic, but this small snake is not at all provoked by being stepped on. It has a very small mouth, making it hard for it to attack much like other snakes. Should it manage to latch on at all, it then has the tedious task of having to inject the venom by way of a chewing motion, forcing its fangs forward and slowly pumping out the poison. If the victim does manage to keep his wits about him, he will quickly find some way to remove this reluctant attacker before definitive damage is done.
The coral snake is from the Elipidae family, which has about 40 different member species, mostly in south and Central America (but only 3 varieties are found here in Belize), the coral snake has a narrow head, its dorsal scales enlarged and arranged symmetrically; there is no discernible neck, so that the head is followed by a long, slender, tapering body, adding up to about 80 cm in all.
Its fangs are fixed in position, up front, and they are grooved. This snake tends to be a secretive night creature, burrowing in the ground, and using such underhanded tactics as pretending that its tail is its head so that its mouth is then free to sneak up on small prey from behind. Its eyes have circular pupils, a mimicry of innocence.
The cordalilo, as it is called in Spanish - comes in various color combinations. The most common in Belize is the Atlantic coral snake, found throughout the country in jungles, rain and pine forests, scrubland, and village yards. It is striped in alternate bands of red and black, the black often trimmed with yellow, the red scales individually tipped with black so that it makes a speckled effect.
Unless there has been heavy rainfall, it dozes away the day inside a burrow, or under a stone, a fallen branch, a pile of leaves. Its meter long cousin, is ringed in solid red, solid black, and yellow or white and is found only in the Cayo and Stann Creek Districts; the black banded of similar length, limits its territory to the Stann Creek Districts only.
If you happen to come face to face with one of these pretty snakes, do to it what it would no doubt prefer to do to you; take off in the opposite direction!