Banded Krait ( Bungarus fasciatus Schneider, 1801 )

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Name
Scientific Name: 
Bungarus fasciatus (Schneider, 1801)
Regional Names: 
English: 
Banded Krait
Hindi: 
Ahiraj, Raj saap, Pattidhari
Marathi: 
Patteri Manyar
Photographs: 
Distribution: 
Distributed in whole of North-east states, above Gangetic plains up to Uttrakhand (western most limit of this species), up to Andhra Pradesh (southern most limit in India) and up to parts of Madhya Pradesh and Maharashtra in continuous belt form. Recorded from following states: Andhra Pradesh, Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Bihar, Chattisgarh, Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Manipur, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Nagaland, Odisha, Sikkim, Telangana, Tripura, Uttar Pradesh, Uttrakhand, West Bengal.
Venom Type: 
Neurotoxic
Family: 
Characteristics for identification: 

Due to its unique external morphology of bearing alternative black and yellow bands on dorsal and belly portions it can be easily identified without any confusion.

Description: 

New born- 25-40cm.
Average length- 150cm (5ft).
Maximum length- 225cm.

Dorsal -
Body triangular with alternate yellow, yellowish-brown and black broad bands of almost the same breadth (or black bands broader than yellow). In new borns the yellow color is faint or completely white. Top scale row hexagonal in shape which is much larger than rest of dorsal scales.

Ventral -
Belly with same color and patterns like adjacent dorsal bands but in dull form.

Head -
Head triangular with rounded edges and not depressed. Color shiny black and yellow alternatively; snout black followed by narrow oblique streaks of yellow and on posterior side it is continued till nape by black. Moderate eyes with rounded pupil looks entirely black in live state.

Tail -
Shorter than a typical snake with blunt end. Bands continues till the end of the tail.

Scalation
Head: 
7 supralabials, 3rd & 4th in contact with eyes; preocular 1, in contact with posterior nasal hence loreal absent; postocular 2; temporal 1+2.
Dorsal: 
Smooth scales in 15 rows throughout; 8th scale which is at the top of the dorsal surface (vertebral series) is largest then rest dorsal scales and have Hexagonal shape.
Ventral: 
200-236; anal undivided.
Sub Caudal: 
23-39; undivided.
Habitat: 
Lives in and around wet lands, open forests, agricultural lands having low vegetation and open water bodies etc. Strictly prefers wet surrounding for its activities. Usually found in plains of low to moderate elevations but in many parts of its range its found in elevation up to 5000ft.
Natural History: 
Banded Krait is a nocturnal species and can be seen during early morning also. Activity semi-aquatic and terrestrial. Remain hidden in mounds, under wood logs, piles near water bodies at day time. Locomotion slower on land but creeps well in wet ground. Behavior shy and usually non-offensive. At day time it becomes quite docile and less resisting while at night during foraging time it becomes sharp and alert but bites given in aggression are rare. In defensive response it makes "Eight (8)" shaped loose coil with head under the body, transversely inflates whole body and regularly jerk whole body to charge its enemy. Mating begins from late winters to summer months. Female lays about 15 eggs in mounds, tree caves, cavities of wooden logs around water bodies. New born individuals seen during starting of monsoon.
Diet: 
Feeds mainly on other snakes including venomous ones like Cobras; also feeds on fishes, frogs, rodents etc.
Bite symptoms: 

The major dangerous effect of B. fasciatus venom is progressive paralysis of the peripheral nervous system, leading to respiratory paralysis and death due to asphyxia. Systemic muscle damage with myoglobinuria, acute renal failure and hyperkalaemia has caused death in a case suspected to have been caused by this species in northwestern Bangladesh. Thus, both neurotoxic and myotoxic envenoming and their complications should be anticipated.

Threats: 
Killing due to fear of bite and road kills are general reasons of direct threat to it. This is perhaps the most demanding Krait species in pet and skin trade. Due to its large size and unique bands Banded Krait is always in high demand in skin trade. Recently it is noticed that people demands Banded Krait's body for black magic to earn wealth which is done by sacrificing the snake of higher body weight. Loss and/or pollution in wetlands and wet grasslands is another cause of its population decline. As its venom is medically useful, there is always chance of trade of its venom for various researches and Anti Venom production.
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