Micrurus nigrocinctus, commonly known as the Central American coral snake, is a species of venomous elapid snake that ranges from southern Mexico through Central America (except Belize) to northwestern Colombia. There are six recognized subspecies, including the nominate subspecies described here.
The Central American coral snake is capable of growing to 115 cm (45 in), but most are closer to 65 cm (26 in). They have smooth scales, a rounded head, and eyes with round pupils. Its color pattern can vary from two-colored to three-colored, with black, yellow and red banding. The snout is black. Halfway the head, there is usually a yellow ring (in three-colored specimens) or a red ring (in bi-colored specimens). Color pattern on the body consists of often fairly broad red bands separated by much narrower sets of yellow-black-yellow bands. The numbers of black bands on the body may vary from 10 to 24, and an additional 3 to 8 on the tail.
M. nigrocinctus is mainly found in lowland rain forest, lowland dry forest, thorn forest, lower montane wet (or moist) forest, and lower montane dry forest, usually at elevations up to 1,300 m (4,300 ft).
M. nigrocinctus is mainly a terrestrial snake that often dwells in burrows, leaf litter, or under logs. Like most coral snakes it is usually nocturnal, though it may also be active at dusk and dawn, and sometimes after rainfall. It feeds on other snakes, small lizards, amphibians, and invertebrates. While usually not aggressive, it will bite when molested or restrained.
There are six recognized subspecies of Micrurus nigrocinctus:
- Freiberg M. 1982. Snakes of South America. Hong Kong: T.F.H. Publications. 189 pp. ISBN 0-87666-912-7. (Micrurus nigrocinctus, p. 116).
- Girard C. 1854. "Abstract of a Report to Lieut. James M. Gilliss, U. S. N., upon the Reptiles collected during the U. S. N. Astronomical Expedition to Chili [sic]". Proc. Acad. Nat. Sci. Philadelphia 7: 226-227. (Elaps nigrocinctus, new species, p. 226).
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