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Coral Snakes in Guatemala

Coral snakes in Guatemala jungle FINCA TATIN, Guatemala- One bite from a coral snake and you are more or less dead meat. Huge doses of antivenin and artificial or mechanical respiration are needed to preserve life, and a single bite has been proven fatal within hours. The neurotoxin from a coral snake paralyzes the breathing [...]

Coral snakes in Guatemala jungle

FINCA TATIN, Guatemala- One bite from a coral snake and you are more or less dead meat. Huge doses of antivenin and artificial or mechanical respiration are needed to preserve life, and a single bite has been proven fatal within hours. The neurotoxin from a coral snake paralyzes the breathing muscles, the victim asphyxiates.

Coral snakes live throughout the world, in the western hemisphere they inhabit the south of the USA, and nearly all of Central and South America.

Coral snakes, apparently, also inhabit the region in front of my door step at the Finca Tatin in the eastern jungles of Guatemala.

I was standing outside of my room one night, looking at the clouds move before the stars above the jungle canopy. I got a funny feeling, I shined my flashlight down by my feet. There was a coral snake.

It looked like a worm, flaying about its tail, hovering its head. I looked closer, I remembered my youthful Herpetological studies — “If red touches yellow your a dead fellow, if red touches black your OK jack” the maxim to identify new world species’ of coral snake. What I was looking at was a baby coral. A distinctive yellow band over the head and a red body with black patches told me so. In the dark of night I crouched down over the little snake and watched it move. I had never observed a coral snake in the wild before. I took photos, the snake eventually fled beneath a stone and into the jungle that butts up to my room.

The next day I showed the photos to a couple men who have grown up in this jungle, men who beyond a doubt can distinguish a coral snake from a variety of benign though well disguised look alikes .

“Es un coral.”

————–

A couple of days later a guest to the Finca Tatin announced that an adult coral snake was recently found at the Finca Perico up river near Fronteras. I told her that I found one in front of my room. She did not take this news lightly.

“There are poisonous snakes here!?!”

And tarantulas, scorpions, large spiders, jaguars, malarial mosquitoes, dengue. We are in the jungle.

Range and habitat of coral snakes in the Americas

Guatemala Travelogue Entries | Guatemala Travel Guide | Guatemala Photos

Filed under: Animals, Central America, Rain Forests

About the Author:

Wade Shepard is the founder and editor of Vagabond Journey. He has been traveling the world since 1999, through 88 countries. He is the author of the book, Ghost Cities of China, and contributes to The Guardian, Forbes, Bloomberg, The Diplomat, the South China Morning Post, and other publications. has written 3413 posts on Vagabond Journey. Contact the author.

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  • Bob L August 19, 2010, 3:57 pm

    No no no, this is a tourist place, there are not supposed to be any bad things here, we pay you a lot (yeah right) of money, we should not have to deal with these things. There are only supposed to be cute things here.

    Bob L

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    • Wade | Vagabond Journey.com August 19, 2010, 7:38 pm

      People come hear wanting to go on jungle tours, they say that they want to see animals, but the wildlife here is the last thing they really want to encounter. Night after night the tourists go beserk over spiders, scorpions, and snakes. It is funny. They say they want to experience nature — but not that kind of nature. They say they want adventure — but not the kind that can hurt. Tourism is a fickled monster.

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