Small Spotted Coral Snake – Venomous – Potentially Dangerous

Speckled Coral Snake - Venomous - Potentially Dangerous
Speckled Coral Snake – Calliophis maculiceps Juvenile

“Calliophis maculiceps” (Speckled coral snake, Small-spotted Coral Snake)

Length: Average 50 cm though females can get considerably longer at 130 cm (reference –

Range: These small coral snakes are found all over Thailand and some other countries in Asia. I have seen a half dozen of these snakes in southern Thailand, usually found by people in their potted plants outside.

Habitat: These snakes enjoy the leaf litter, loose dirt, and cool areas under rotting trees and other foliage. They are very rarely found during the daytime, and one scientist said they are usually only seen during September and October. I’ve seen them year round.

Active Time? Nocturnal – active almost exclusively at night.

Food: Very small snakes like the Brahminy blind snake, worm snakes, worms, and probably termite, ant, and other insect eggs.

Defensive Behavior: They curl up their bright red, white and black spotted tail as a defense mechanism. These snakes have little else for defense, as they don’t even attempt to bite. The mouth on the Calliophis maculiceps is very small.

Venom Toxicity: This is a coral snake, so, the potential for life-threatening envenomation does potentially exist. Their venom is neurotoxic. There are places on the human body where this snake could get a good bite in, given the chance. Between the fingers and toes is an ideal piece of skin to bite. Just be very careful with these, and all coral snakes. Just because a snake has not been known to cause significant envenomation in the past, doesn’t mean it won’t happen. If you keep this snake as a pet – be very careful not to get too comfortable holding it – it is potentially a deadly snake.

Offspring: One scientist noted a clutch of just 2 eggs.

Notes: These are remarkably beautiful snakes, and yet so small that they could be mistaken for a worm of some sort if. Body patterns can differ slightly. Some, like this juvenile exhibit black stripes and spots. Some have just spots. Some are almost uniformly brown with very few or light spots. The body of this coral snake is round, without a pronounced vertebral ridge. The belly is bright orange, and the tip of the tail has white and black. When the tail is raised, it is quite stunning. These snakes are common, and are kept as pets across the world.

Speckled Coral Snake from side - Calliophis maculiceps
This juvenile speckled coral was about half the diameter of a pencil.
Defensive behavior of Calliophis maculiceps.

All Photos – 2011 Copyright Vern Lovic


Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Subphylum: Vertebrata
Class: Reptilia
Order: Squamata
Suborder: Serpentes
Family: Elapidae
Subfamily: Elapinae
Genus: Calliophis
Species: C. maculiceps

Calliophis maculiceps
(Discovered by Gunther in the year 1858)

Speckled Coral Snake Video:

About Vern Lovic

All posts by Vern Lovic. Amateur herpetologist roaming about Thailand on field herping tours to find king cobras, kraits, vipers, coral snakes, and other snakes native to Thailand. FYI - Thailand has over 200 snake species with more than 70 of them venomous and dangerous to humans.

2 thoughts on “Small Spotted Coral Snake – Venomous – Potentially Dangerous”

  1. we had a small coral spotted coral snake in garden near house in Phuket yesterday. Suspect fully grown as about 18″ long. I see its potentially dangerous but has small mouth. We also have two beagles that love to sniff any and everything – would this snake pose a problem for the dog if bitten? I suppose it could get a bite in the nose / mouth area?

    1. Hi Peter, Yes, the coral snake is fully capable of killing anything – a dog, human, any pet… Their mouths are VERY small, but there is always the chance that a coral snake can get a fang into a dog somehow. Did you say 18 inches long? You sure it’s a coral snake? That would be full-grown all right. Cheers man…

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