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Kingsnakes and coral snakes look pretty much the same, with bright red, black, and yellow stripes. However, the coral snake is venomous and quite dangerous, while the kingsnake is a good snake to have in your backyard, as they will hunt mice and other snakes. Fortunately, there is a way to tell them apart, as the stripes are in a different order on the snakes. Many children in America grow up knowing some variant of this rhyme:


"Red touch yellow, kill a fellow; red touch black, friend of Jack."

or

"Red on yellow kills a fellow. Red on black, venom lack."


It is worth noting that this rule only holds east of the Mississippi, and also don't pick up snakes based on children's rhymes.

I know that the last sentence in kamamer's w/u was a joke, but I can't stop myself:

Do not pound one of these animals to the death with a shovel!

Coral snakes (Micrurus sp.) and king snakes (Lampropeltis sp.) are both wonderful, fascinating animals that should be left alone by humans. Like all snakes, they are reclusive animals who are deathly afraid of larger animals, and humans terrify them. They want nothing to do with you. They will hide so you cannot find them, and may run when you approach.

To kill an animal which has no intention of harming a human, but happens to be armed with a deadly toxin (in order to help it be an effective predator) is cruel and unnecessary. If we are to kill all the deadly things we come across on a daily basis, but that have no intention of hurting us, we'll be pretty busy creatures indeed. The next time you see a bee, should you track it back to its hive and then burn it? Should you beat to death every pit bull or rottweiler you run across? How about dismantling, with extreme prejudice, every automobile, bus, truck and bicycle that dares to present itself in front of you. And what do we do when confronted with other humans? All of these things have the capacity to kill us, but have (with the exception of the latter, at times) no desire to do so.

So, if you run across a coral snake, please, back away and leave it alone. It won't hurt you.

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