The coral asp has an elegant and flashy attire, which indicates danger and poisonousness, so you need to be on your guard when meeting this reptile. The attractive appearance and contrasting pattern of these snakes are simply mesmerizing. Let's try to figure out how dangerous their poisonous toxin is, what kind of disposition reptiles have, what is remarkable about their lifestyle, what prevails in the snake menu and where these creeps have a permanent residence permit.
Species origin and description
Coral asps are not a separate species of poisonous reptiles, but a whole genus belonging to the asp family. This is a fairly large family, all snakes of which are dangerous and poisonous. It has 347 varieties, which are combined into 61 genera, including the genus of coral asps. The genus includes 82 species of snakes, we will briefly describe some of them.
The giant coral asp is the largest in the genus, the length of its body reaches one and a half meters. The reptile lives in the wilds of the Amazon.
The harlequin coral asp can be called the most dangerous among its coral counterparts. The length of the snake is from 75 cm to 1 m. The creeper lives in the states of Kentucky and Indiana.
The ribbon coral asp is slightly inferior in size to the giant, but the length of its body goes beyond one meter. The reptile has a thin and slender body and a miniature head. This asp was registered on the South American continent.
Video: Coral snake
The common coral asp is small in size, its length varies from half a meter to 97 cm. A neat, medium-sized head smoothly passes into a thin thin body of a reptile. The snake has chosen the South American tropics.
The African coral asp is distinguished from others by an even brighter and more unusual color. The predominant tone of its body is brownish-olive, sometimes almost black. In contrast, three yellow stripes are visible, and there are red specks on the sides. On average, the length of a reptile ranges from 50 to 60 cm, but occasionally there are larger specimens.
Coral asps cannot be called large-sized. Basically, the average length of their body ranges from 60 to 70 cm. The length of the tail is about ten centimeters. All of them have a flashy extravagant coloration, the general background of which is a red tint.
Interesting fact: Because of the elegant colors of these reptiles, they were awarded such nicknames as “Lollipop” and “Harlequin”.
Appearance and Features
We decided on the dimensions of coral asps, realizing that they are not very large. Mature snake individuals have a neat flattened head of a slightly blunt shape. Although it is small in size, it is very clearly visible relative to the body, but does not have a pronounced interception in the neck. The snake's mouth hole, to match the head, is also small and not capable of strong stretching, which has its own nuances when hunting and eating. Inside the mouth is a row of small poisonous teeth.
The predominant tone in the color of the snake skin is bright red with a contrasting black annular pattern, which alternates evenly along the length of the entire body. On the front and back of the body, black rings are visible, bordered by a narrow white-green stripe. All the rings clearly show small black speckles, because each scale has a black tip.
Interesting fact: The coral asp has non-poisonous type counterparts that perfectly imitate its color, pretending to be dangerous and toxic aspid reptiles, although they are not. These are milk and striated snakes, which thus try to protect themselves from ill-wishers.
Residents of the North American mainland, who know in what color sequence the snake rings should be located, can distinguish the coral asp from harmless reptiles. It is worth noting that such knowledge and skills are effective only in the eastern and southern territories of the United States, because. coral reptiles from other regions of residence may differ in the ring pattern and its alternation.
On the head of the coral asp there is a frontal shield, painted in a black-bluish hue. A very wide strip of greenish-white color runs transversely to the occipital scutes; it descends to the jaw of the reptile. A characteristic feature of a coral snake is the presence of a black collar, which is presented in the form of a ring with a well-marked red stripe.
In the tail area, there are eight white rings that contrast brightly with the black snake skin. The tip of the tail is also solemnly white. In aquatic species, the end of the tail is flattened, because. used by them as a paddle. The venom glands are located behind the eyes.
Now you know the difference between the coral asp and the milk snake. Let's see where the poisonous reptile lives.
Where does the coral snake live?
The largest number of snakes of the coral snake genus has chosen Central and South America. Only the harlequin coral snake can be found on the North American continent, namely in Indiana and Kentucky. Reptiles have spread quite widely in the east of Brazil, where they prefer forests.
Different varieties of reptiles also live in other states, occupying territories:
- Costa Rica;
First of all, coral asps inhabit humid, tropical, forest areas, areas with moist or sandy soils, because love to burrow into the ground. Reptiles successfully disguise themselves in impenetrable bushes and forest thickets, as well as under fallen, decaying leaves. Asps often burrow into the soil, where they stay for a long time, coming out of hiding in heavy rain and during weddings.
Interesting fact: Coral asps do not shy away from human settlements, but, on the contrary, often settle nearby from human dwellings. Apparently, this is due to the fact that a large number of rodents live near people, which creepers love to eat.
Captive coral snakes are best placed in strong and secure terrariums with locks. It must have a specialized shelter for the reptile, which can be closed, this is necessary for the safety of the owner during the cleaning of the snake habitat. The most convenient are vertical terrariums, the bottom of which is lined with special coconut chips. A necessary attribute in such habitats of reptiles is the presence of several snags, on which snakes are very fond of crawling.
What does the coral snake eat?
Coral snakes are not averse to snacking on:
- small lizards;
- small birds;
- large-sized insects;
- all kinds of rodents;
- small snakes.
Terrariumists feed their coral snake pets small rodents and large-sized varieties of cockroaches (for example, Madagascar cockroaches). To avoid overfeeding, it is necessary to treat the coral asp only twice a week. Reptiles kept in captivity are often obese, so a variety of vitamin and mineral supplements must be present in their diet. The drinker should always be filled with clean and fresh water.
It has been noted that snakes of this genus can go without food for a long time without any special adverse effects, and they drink regularly, crawling to water sources every 3 to 5 days.
Fun fact: Asp snakes sometimes experience cannibalism, so these snakes are not averse to feeding on their own creeping brethren.
The coral snake goes hunting at twilight, and is most active just before dawn, getting its own food. Do not forget that the mouth of reptiles does not have the ability to stretch much, and therefore they hunt for not too large prey. In addition, they have rather small fangs, so they are not able to bite through the skin of any large animal. Often, coral asps eat young rattlesnakes, completely without fear of their poisonousness, because. have immunity against snake toxin.
Character and Lifestyle Features
The lifestyle of coral asps is very secretive, these snakes prefer solitude. It is extremely rare to meet them, because they spend the lion's share of their time burrowing into moist soil or under a layer of rotting foliage. They often reveal themselves only during the wedding season and during rain.
A coral reptile attacks its prey very quickly and instantly. She makes a sharp lunge forward, wide open snake mouth. The dose of a poisonous substance injected in one bite can reach up to 12 mg, although for the human body already 4 or 6 mg are considered harmful.
Interesting fact: Brazilians have a belief that says that coral reptiles have a small snake wrapped around their neck, which makes poisonous bites.
Coral asps cannot be called aggressors in relation to a person, they themselves will never be the first to attack. All bites happen in self-defense, when a person first starts to provoke a reptile or inadvertently steps on it. Asps bite with a pair of medium-sized teeth located on the upper jaw. Their bites are distinguished by the fact that the reptile tries to hold on to the bitten area with its teeth for as long as possible so that the toxin acts faster.
There is no inflammation in the bite area, often there is even no pain. All this is not evidence of mild intoxication, therefore, without special rescue measures, a person will die in less than a day.
Symptoms of poisonous poisoning may be as follows:
- severe pain in the area head;
- nausea and frequent vomiting (sometimes with blood);
- the wound may begin to bleed;
- acute heart failure is rarely observed, leading to paralysis and death.
Interesting fact: In some places, the coral snake was nicknamed the “minute snake” ”, because after a poisonous bite, its small prey dies within just one minute.
Social structure and reproduction
Sexually mature coral asps become closer to the age of two years, sometimes a little earlier. The wedding season for reptiles begins in the spring, when the snakes wake up from hibernation. Sometimes there is a surge of mating activity in the fall. The female secretes a strong-smelling secret that signals her readiness for intercourse. This fragrance attracts gentlemen who crawl from all over the area, intertwining into a large tangle teeming with snakes. Many varieties of coral snakes have mating battles for the right to possess the lady of the heart.
Interesting fact: Coral snakes are the only egg-laying poisonous reptiles living on the North American continent, all other dangerous creeping ones are viviparous.
Before starting to lay eggs, females begin to equip their nesting site. It is most often located either in a hole or in a layer of fallen leaves, which helps protect future offspring from various temperature fluctuations and ill-wishers. Usually there are only a few eggs in the clutch (3-4 sometimes the number can reach up to 8). The oblong eggs are about 4 cm long. Future mothers themselves warm the masonry, wrapping themselves around it with their flexible body. At this time, the aggressiveness of snakes increases significantly.
Most often, small serpents hatch from eggs in August. Their coloring completely coincides with the parent coloring. Almost immediately, they have independence and go on a life journey, the duration of which varies from 15 to 20 years. It depends on the species of reptiles and the places of their permanent deployment. Specimens are known whose lifespan far exceeded the twenty-year mark.
Natural enemies of coral asps
Do not be surprised that the poisonous and dangerous coral asp has many enemies who can easily feast on the reptile. Their small size and quiet, even shy nature makes these snakes even more vulnerable. When the coral asp encounters some kind of obstacle (for example, with a stone block), he himself often experiences fright, hiding his head under his twisted body. At this point, he can roll from one side to the other, holding his tail vertically curled up in a ring.
Various predatory birds (serpent eagles, kites, secretary birds) can attack coral snakes from the air. Reptiles often suffer from wild boars, whose thick skin their small teeth are not able to bite through. Brave mongooses are not averse to snacking on snake meat, with their dexterous and frequent movements and jumps, they exhaust reptiles, and then inflict a crown bite on the back of the head, which leads to the death of creeping ones. Such large predators as leopards and jaguars can also use asps for a snack. Do not forget that these snakes are prone to cannibalism, therefore, without a twinge of conscience, they eat their fellow tribesmen. Most often, inexperienced young animals suffer.
A person who often kills reptiles because of their poisonousness can also be attributed to snake enemies. People catch asps for resale to terrarium keepers, because many want to keep them because of their smart catchy color, although this undertaking is very troublesome and dangerous. Snakes also die because their venom is highly valued in pharmaceuticals and cosmetology. Creeps also suffer from barbaric human interference in their permanent habitats.
Population and species status
Coral asps are widely settled, both in Central and South America. They also live in certain areas of the North American mainland. Numerous populations of these snakes have been seen in the eastern part of Brazil. Of course, there are many negative factors affecting the life of coral reptiles, almost all of them arise from human hands. A person, taking care of his needs, forgets about his smaller brothers, forcing them out of their usual places of deployment, this trend has not bypassed coral asps, which also die because of their own valuable poison.
Despite all the harmful factors, most varieties of coral asps do not experience strong threats to the population. Conservation organizations are only concerned about a few individual species found in Honduras. The rest of the coral reptiles are not endangered, the number of their population remains stable, without experiencing rapid jumps in the direction of decrease or growth.
Perhaps this is due to the great secrecy of these reptiles, which are more often found in the bowels of the soil and rotting foliage, leading a mysterious and calm snake life. So, we can assume that, for the most part, the population of coral asps does not experience large-scale threats, is not on the verge of extinction, only a couple of varieties need special protection measures, which cannot but rejoice.
Coral Snake Conservation
As already noted, most of the species belonging to the genus of coral asps do not experience too significant threats to life, so the coral population remains numerous, but some species are still considered very rare, so they may completely disappear and need protection from nature conservation structures. .
So, in the CITES Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora, there are two types of coral asps living in the expanses of Honduras: the diastema coral asp and the coral black-belt asp. Both of these serpentine varieties are in Appendix Three, which is designed to regulate the unauthorized trade in these reptiles in order to avoid a sharp decline in their already small numbers.
Such an unfavorable situation regarding the abundance of these species of coral asps has developed due to anthropogenic factors, which led to the fact that the number of these snakes was greatly reduced. This is due to the displacement of reptiles from their places of permanent residence, human intervention in their natural environment, illegal capture of creeping ones for the purpose of resale, the death of snakes due to the extraction of their most valuable poisonous toxin and other rash human actions that lead to tragic snake consequences.
In the end, I would like to note that the coral asp is only very extravagant in appearance, and has a completely calm character, aggressing only in extreme cases in order to protect its own snake life. Their catchy appearance is very attractive, but they do not like to demonstrate it, preferring solitude and a measured quiet existence.