Man paralyzed after mistaking deadly coral snake for harmless ki - KMOV.com

Man paralyzed after mistaking deadly coral snake for harmless kingsnake

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This eastern coral snake is a distant relative to the cobra and is highly venomous. (AP Photo/Phil Sandlin) This eastern coral snake is a distant relative to the cobra and is highly venomous. (AP Photo/Phil Sandlin)
MOBILE, AL (WALA) -

(Meredith/WALA) — An Alabama man has been paralyzed after mistaking two similar-looking snakes: the deadly coral snake and the harmless kingsnake. 

Family members said Jeffrey Phillips of Gilberttown in west Alabama was outside his home last week when his kids found what he thought was a harmless kingsnake. It wasn't.

It turned out to be a coral snake, the second most dangerous snake in the world. The snake bit Phillips and left him paralyzed. He was rushed to a hospital and put on antivenin, which was flown in to save his life.

"He hopefully will regain some of his use. We just really don't know. He's going to have to learn how to walk, dress himself, eat, and brush his teeth and everything," Judy Kell, Phillips' mother, told WALA.

Which is which?

Knowing the difference between a coral snake and a kingsnake might mean the difference between life and death.

"You can tell the difference by simply looking at their colors," Tracy Delcambre, who works at the Environmental Studies Center in Mobile, Alabama, said. "And we use a little poem to help the students remember."

"Red on yellow, kill a fellow." (Coral snake)

"Red on black, friend of Jack." (Kingsnake)

Click here to learn more about coral and kingsnakes.

Experts recommend that if you haven't spent much time educating yourself on the difference, then the best thing to do is to leave the snake alone.

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