Black Krait ( Bungarus niger Wall, 1908 )

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Name
Scientific Name: 
Bungarus niger (Wall, 1908)
Regional Names: 
English: 
Greater Black Krait
Photographs: 
Distribution: 
Found in North-east India from Uttrakhand (Pithoragarh) to whole of North-east region up to mizoram and Arunachal Pradesh. Also found in Bangladesh, Bhutan and Nepal.
Venom Type: 
Neurotoxic
Family: 
Characteristics for identification: 

Morphologically it looks very close to Lesser Black Krait (Bungarus lividus). Both species are known for patternless uniform black body with yellowish underside. Apart from scale counts, both species can be differentiated by checking vertebral scale shape and size. In B. niger they are significantly larger than adjacent scales and of hexagonal shape. While Lesser Black Krait they are not much distinct than adjacent scales and significantly narrower than most of the Krait species.

Description: 

Average length- 90cm.
Maximum length- 130cm.

Dorsal -
Body slender with shiny smooth scales, top scales hexagonal and larger like other Kraits. Body color jet black or black mixed with red, brown or blue without any band or marking.

Ventral -
Belly color milky white or yellowish-white. Edge of ventral scales with reddish or brownish tint which extends up to few rows of side dorsal scales. Subcaudal scales undivided.

Head -
Head depressed with a rounded snout, slightly broader than neck. Upper lip color yellowish-brown. Moderate eyes blackish on upper. Nasal pit color pink; Moderate eyes looks entirely black in live state with rounded pupil.

Tail -
Shorter than typical range and ends with a pointed tip.

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: 
Scales smooth with 15 rows througout. 8th scale which is at the top of the dorsal surface (vertebral series) is largest then rest dorsal scales and have Hexagonal shape.
Ventral: 
216-231; Anal undivided (entire).
Sub Caudal: 
47-57; undivided.
Habitat: 
Black Krait is an exclusively nocturnal species and is active only at night. It remain hidden in dark and silent places during day time. Lives in termite mound, under heavy rocks, caves, rat holes, dense dry leaves, wood caves, brick piles also they prefer some dark and wet surrounding so more common around water bodies. At late night it become more aggressive while searching for its prey.
Natural History: 
Poorly known. Nocturnal, Eat snakes; in captivity, Feed voraciously on mammals and lays eggs. Nothing is known about its venom but it is likely to be as very toxic as in other kratis.
Diet: 
Black Kraits feeds on almost all Kind of snakes including other Kraits. Other animals include Lizards, Frogs and Rodents.
Bite symptoms: 

The venom of B. niger causes progressive paralysis of the peripheral nervous system, leading to respiratory paralysis and death due to asphyxia, and it causes systemic muscle damage with myoglobinuria, acute renal failure and hyperkalaemia. Thus, the complications of both neurotoxic and myotoxic envenoming must be anticipated in patients bitten by such a snake. Assisted ventilation is crucial and dialysis may be needed, too.

Threats: 
Direct and most potent threats are killing done by humans due to its venomous nature and road kills. Loss of forests around Himalayan region can be one of the indirect threat.
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