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Hemprichi's Coral Snake

Micrurus hemprichii ortoni

Description:

Micrurus hemprichii is a medium sized snake (50-60 cm) with 90 cm being the maximum length. This one was 72.5 cm. The snout, top of the head to the posterior edge of the parietals as well as the mental and first infralabials are all black. Posteriorly there is an orange band that extends forward to the rest of the head. There are 5-10 triads on the body plus up to 2 more on the tail. The triads consist of longer black rings separated by two narrow white rings and a wider orange ring. There are 3 black rings between each orange ring, hence “triad” (orange-black-white-black-white-black-orange). M. hemprichii can easily be differentiated from all others in the Micrurus genus as it is the only one with a single anal scale as opposed to a divided anal scale. As with most coral snakes, when threatened, they twitch violently, throwing themselves in figure "S's" and guarding their head while waving their tail to distract enemies.

Habitat:

This coral snake is found on the Amazonian slopes of the Andes and the Amazon Basin in most countries North of the Amazon River, and in Bolivia. This individual was found on a trail (670 masl) in the early morning hours in the Amazon rainforest of SE Ecuador. M. hemprichii ortoni prefers moist leaf litter on the forest floor.

Notes:

There are two subspecies recognized: M. h. hemprichii in eastern Colombia, Southern Venezuela, the Guianas, and northeastern Brazil. This specimen is a M. h. ortoni, which is found along the Orinocoan and Amazonian slopes of the Andes in Colombia, Ecuador, Peru and Bolivia. Their diet, along with snakes as with other corals, includes amphisbaenas, lizards and their principal food, the velvet worm (Peripatus sp.).

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22 Comments

Tukup
Tukup a year ago

Tis true. Unfortunately (most would say fortunately) I don't see them very often. Twice in 33 years. Definitely a nice looking snake. Thanks Cole.

cole15
cole15 a year ago

One of the coolest animals I have ever seen

Tukup
Tukup a year ago

You are welcome Maria. I appreciate all you rangers do for this site.

Maria dB
Maria dB a year ago

Thanks for the additional information, Tukup!

Tukup
Tukup a year ago

Thanks Maria. Yes, it is a true coral. In the US the rhyme, "Red on yellow kill a fellow, red on black venom lack (friend of Jack) works, but it doesn't down here. 4 of the 6 corals in our area have red on black. Of the other two, one doesn't really have rings and the other is speckled and it's hard to tell what color is next to what color. The only sure way I know of is to look for the loreal scale. If it is present, it isn't venomous. If it isn't, it may be venomous.

Maria dB
Maria dB a year ago

Very nice spotting! Is this a venomous snake?

Tukup
Tukup a year ago

Thanks Daniele. This is a somewhat rare snake and I am glad to see it recognized in this way.

DanielePralong
DanielePralong a year ago

Your spotting has been nominated for the Spotting of the Week. The winner will be chosen by the Project Noah Rangers based on a combination of factors including: uniqueness of the shot, status of the organism (for example, rare or endangered), quality of the information provided in the habitat and description sections. There is a subjective element, of course; the spotting with the highest number of Ranger votes is chosen. Congratulations on being nominated again Tukup!

Tukup
Tukup a year ago

Thanks Mark. Pretty cool snake.

Mark Ridgway
Mark Ridgway a year ago

What a great looking snake. Well done.

Tukup
Tukup a year ago

Thanks Dawn. Corals are in general pretty nice looking, but this one, with its simplicity is exceptionally neat.

I really like the colors of this cool find! Thank you for sharing!

Tukup
Tukup a year ago

They really do don't they? Thanks Armadeus.

armadeus.4
armadeus.4 a year ago

Orange and black go well together. Beautiful spotting Tukup. Thank you for sharing :)

Tukup
Tukup a year ago

Thanks Sergio. It was special.

Great spotting, Tukup.

Tukup
Tukup a year ago

Thanks for the pointer Daniele. I truly appreciate it. Please feel free to let me know how I can do better at any time.

DanielePralong
DanielePralong a year ago

You're welcome Tukup! There can never be too much info ;-) Project Noah has alway tried to encourage users to create original content in notes, and write as much as possible about their personal encounters rather than copy published information (we have reference fields for this). It is of course OK to quote or take for a piece of published information if it is essential to your description. One piece of advice would be to keep Habitat more concise, and put the bulk of your text under notes. Habitat, as per our FAQ, should only be used to describe the actual habitat where your spotting was made. In a scenario where data is parsed and analyzed it greatly helps that this field contains only the required information. I hope this helps :-) But essentially, keep doing what you're doing!

Tukup
Tukup a year ago

Thanks Daniele. A beautiful snake but seldom seen. Thanks to both of you for the encouragement on the notes too. I never know how much info is too much.

Tukup
Tukup a year ago

Thanks Neil. I'm going to start putting snakes on now, just one at a time. I figure if I put on 1 per week it will take me well over a year without duplicating :-)

DanielePralong
DanielePralong a year ago

Great pattern on this coral snake Tukup! Excellent and informative notes as always :-)

Neil Ross
Neil Ross a year ago

Beautiful snake and a wonderful spotting, Tukup. Cheers for the notes too :)

Tukup
Spotted by
Tukup

Morona-Santiago, Ecuador

Spotted on Jan 26, 2015
Submitted on Apr 29, 2019

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