Micrurus tener – The Texas Coral Snake

Micrurus tener is a species of venomous snake commonly known as the Texas coral snake. It is a member of the Elapidae family, which includes some of the most venomous snakes in the world. Micrurus tener is primarily found in the southern United States and inhabits parts of Mexico and Central America.

The Texas coral snake has a distinctive and beautiful color pattern that serves as a warning to potential predators. Its body is slender and cylindrical, usually reaching lengths of around 2 to 3 feet (0.6 to 0.9 meters). The typical coloration consists of alternating bands of red, yellow, and black. The red and yellow bands touch each other, while the black bands separate them.

Like other coral snakes, Micrurus tener possesses neurotoxic venom. Their venom contains toxins that affect the nervous system, specifically by disrupting the transmission of nerve signals. While they have a potent venom, their fangs are relatively small, and their venom yield is low. Bites from Micrurus tener are rare, but if envenomation occurs, it can be potentially life threatening and immediate medical attention is required.

Texas coral snakes are generally reclusive and spend much of their time hidden beneath logs, leaf litter, or in underground burrows. They are primarily active during the night and early morning, and they tend to avoid human contact. These snakes are not aggressive and prefer to flee rather than confront a threat.

Micrurus tener primarily feeds on other small reptiles, such as lizards and snakes. They are specialized predators that primarily consume other snakes, including small vipers and other coral snakes. They have fixed front fangs and use a chewing motion to deliver their venom to their prey.
Texas coral snakes are known for their remarkable similarity to the harmless scarlet kingsnake (Lampropeltis elapsoides). The two species share a similar color pattern of red, yellow, and black bands. However, a mnemonic rhyme is often used to help distinguish them: “Red touches black, friend of Jack; red touches yellow, kills a fellow.” This is a helpful reminder that the red and yellow bands on a coral snake touch each other, while they are separated by black on the kingsnake.

Micrurus tener is not currently listed as endangered. However, habitat destruction, urbanization, and road mortality pose threats to their populations. It is essential to preserve their natural habitats and take measures to avoid unnecessary harm to these snakes and their ecosystems.

If you encounter a Texas coral snake or any other venomous snake, it is important to exercise caution and keep a safe distance. It is best to appreciate them from afar and avoid any unnecessary interactions.

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