Sunday, June 7, 2009

Common Krait | Bungarus caeruleus

Labels: Krait, Karait, Maneer

Binomial name: Bungarus caeruleus
Common name: Common Krait

Scientific classification














B. caeruleus


Distinguishing Features: Medium-sized; smooth, shiny scales; head faintly wider than the neck; jet black, generally with distinct white cross lines.

Average Length: 1 m; At Birth: 25 cm; Maximum: 1.75 m (male).

Description: They are smooth, glossy, bluish-black snakes with rounded head which is slightly distinct from the neck. Their body colour varies from a dark steely blue-black to pale faded bluish-grey. They normally have around 40 thin white cross bands throughout their body. Few adults and young ones may have white spots along the first-third of the backbone in place of the cross lines. Their underside is white. Common Kraits are often confused with Wolf Snakes (Lycodon species) which are quite smaller, with flat, fairly pointed heads. This species is the best known of the 6 Krait species found in India and is one of the Big Four Dangerous Snakes.

Distribution: Common Kraits are found in most of India including the Andaman and Nicobars, up to 1,700 m above sea level. They are scarce in Bengal, Assam and Orissa, where Banded Kraits are found.

Habitat: They usually occur in sandy soil, termite mounds, burrows of small rodents and piles of brick and rubble, as they are mainly snakes of the plains. Despite the fact that they are common in some parts of the country like coastal area of Tamil Nadu, one rarely sees them.

Habits: Kraits are nocturnal and they hide during the daytime in holes of field mice and rats. They are short-fanged snakes with a bulldog clasp and extremely fast and active at night. When a male krait is introduced to a cage of captive specimens, a jerking dance often follows, at times ending in a serious fit of biting.

Young: Female lays up to 8 or 12 eggs around March to May which may hatch in May-July. The female incubates her eggs and stays with it like other snakes do.

Food: Kraits mainly take snakes, lizards and rodents. They are true cannibals and can even gulp small kraits from a captive group. Their favourite items include Striped Keelbacks and Olive Keelbacks.

Status: They are quite common and abundant in few areas. They dwell near human settlements and stay undisturbed because of their secretive nocturnal habits.

Venom: Kraits are extremely venomous and their venom induces nerve paralysis as it is highly toxic. As it leaves no local symptoms, a patient should be cautiously observed for signs of paralysis and treated immediately with anti-venom.

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