Scarlet Snake
Cemophora coccinea

Photo by ME Dorcas


Description: The scarlet snake is slender with smooth scales and has a striking color pattern which closely resembles the venomous coral snake—banded red, black, and yellow (or white). However, one can easily distinguish scarlet snakes from coral snakes because they have black bands that separate their wide red bands from their yellow bands. Their unmarked bellies are white or yellowish, which distinguishes them from scarlet kingsnakes. Their pointed, red snouts are used for burrowing.

Feeding/Diet: Scarlet snakes spend most of their time below ground, searching for reptile eggs, their primary food. They will also eat small snakes and lizards.

Habitat/Range: They inhabit oak and pine forests with sandy soil, where they can burrow easily.

Reproduction: Scarlet snakes lay 3–8 eggs during mid summer, and the babies closely resemble the adults.

Miscellaneous: Scarlet snakes emerge from hibernation in late spring and are active only at night. They generally do not bite when handled, but because of their resemblance to the venomous coral snake, only experts in snake identification should pick one up.

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The shaded region represents the range of the scarlet snake in North Carolina.

Photo by RW Van Devender

Photo by RW Van Devender

Photo by ME Dorcas

Photo by K Messenger Photo by JD Willson

This website created by: J. Willson, Y. Kornilev, W. Anderson, G. Connette and E. Eskew.
For comments or questions contact M. Dorcas:
M. Dorcas homepage:
Davidson College, Davidson, North Carolina 28035-1719.

Text and maps from: Dorcas, M. E. 2004. A Guide to the Snakes of North Carolina. Davidson College - Herpetology Laboratory, Davidson, NC. – Copyright by Michael E. Dorcas.

Partial Funding for this website provided by a Associate Colleges of the South, National Science Foundation, and Duke Energy.