Photo by Jerry Schudda
Sonoran Coralsnake – Micruroides euryxanthus
The only member of the Elapidae family (which includes cobras and mambas) of snakes present in Arizona, Sonoran Coralsnakes are much smaller and more slender than other individuals of the same species found in southeastern North America. These snakes are distinguishable by their black, red, and creamy white bands that became famous with the saying, "Red touch yellow, you're a dead fellow." Taking advantage of this aposematic coloration, there are several snakes that mimic this color pattern and the saying is not as applicable as originally intended.
Snakes of this family are know for having higher concentrations of neurotoxins in their venom compared to pit vipers. These toxins attack the nervous system, often resulting in muscular paralysis and difficulty breathing. Bites from the Sonoran Coralsnake, though rare, can happen if the animal is handled or provoked. However, due to the small body size and small venom load of these individuals, humans rarely experience symptoms.