King Snake and Coral Snake

Type: Fixed Phrase

  1. “So in there are two different snakes that look almost identical, one is poisonous and the other is totally harmless. They both have only three colors on them. One has, red, yellow and black, while the other is red, white, and black. There was a saying that I picked up that taught you how to tell which one was poisonous and which one was harmless. ‘Red touch black; venom lack. Red touch yellow; kill a fellow.” King Snakes are the harmless ones and Coral Snakes are the super deadly ones. I was going around the desert with some friends when some other travelers told us about the desert snakes. We were in the Southwest (Arizona area).”
  2. I obtained this piece of folklore from my cousin Clay. Clay is a year older than me, and grew up in Mill Valley California, which is located in Marin County (just North of San Francisco). Clay has been on numerous trips outdoors, and spends a significant amount of time in nature. He is trained as a college outdoor guide as well as a backpacking specialist. Clay obtained this phrase while in the Southwest desert area, he does not remember exactly which state he was in, but somewhere around Arizona area, and he did at one point go close to the Mexico border.
  3. In North America but mainly the desert biomes, there are two types of snakes that look very similar, although one of the two is incredibly dangerous—due to its strong venom. King snakes are harmless while Coral snakes have a deadly venom. Many hikers and campers confuse the two snakes, and put their life’s in potential danger. This folk saying helps people identify the dangerous snake from the harmless one, in an easy, simple rhyme.
  4. I have never heard this saying before because I do not spend that much time in desert areas, but if I were to, I would want to know this folk saying. However, I might not remember it, which would defeat the whole purpose.