Common Krait ( Bungarus caeruleus Schneider, 1801 )

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Name
Scientific Name: 
Bungarus caeruleus (Schneider, 1801)
Regional Names: 
Hindi: 
Karait, Kaili
Kannada: 
ಕಟ್ಟು ಹಾವು (kaTTu hAvu)
Malayalam: 
(വളകൊഴുപ്പന്‍) Valakozhupan, Ettadi veeran (എട്ടടി വീരന്‍)
Telugu: 
కట్ల పాము (kaTla pAmu)
Marathi: 
Manyar
Bengali: 
Kalach, Domnachiti, Shiyar Shanda
Tamil: 
Kattu viriyan
English: 
Common Indian Krait
Photographs: 
Typical form of Common Krait. Jabalpur, Madhya Pradesh
Distribution: 
All over the India including North-east states. Not found in Islands. Also found in Bangladesh, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka.
Venom Type: 
Neurotoxic
Family: 
Characteristics for identification: 

Shiny Black body with Milky White bands (paired or unpaired). Vertebral scales are Hexagonal in shape. On closer view they can be observed clearly. Subcaudal scales are undivided. (See also Common Wolf Snake, Lycodon aulicus http://www.indiansnakes.org/content/common-wolf-snake)

Description: 

New born - 25-27cm.
Average length- 90-120cm.
Maximum length- 165cm.

Dorsa -
Body slender with shiny smooth scales of black color range. Dorsal body jet black or black mixed with brown, grey, purple ting. Presence of milky white bands (paired or unpaired) on the dorsal body is the main visible feature of Common Krait. These bands starts from posterior of neck (most of the neck region looks patternless) scale in the form of elongated white patch on the back scale (along vertebra) and expands as true band on moving towards the mid-body. Specimens without bands also recorded from many parts of its range. The vertebral scales hexagonal in shape as in all Krait species and this is a definite identification feature of this snake and genus.

Ventral -
Belly milky white in juveniles and sub-adults while may turn yellowish-white in fully grown adults. Reddish, brown or bluish ting present on the edge of ventral scales which extends up to first few dorsal scales. Sub caudal scale color similar to rest of belly and unpaired which is also a main characteristic of Bungarus (Krait) genus and not found in any other Elapid of India.

Head -
Head depressed with rounded snout; slightly broader than the neck. Upper lip brownish or yellowish and preocular scale often bear yellowish-white patch. Small eyes appears entirely black. Tongue colour light red or pinkish.

Tail -
Prehensile, shorter and ends with pointed tip. Typical white bands are present and more prominent than those found in forebody.

Scalation
Head: 
7 supralabials; 3rd & 4th in contact with eyes; 1 preocular touches posterior nasal hence loreal absent; 2 postocular; temporals 1+2.
Dorsal: 
Smooth scales in 15 rows throughout. 8th scale which is on the top of the dorsal body along the vertebra is larger than adjacent dorsal scales and of hexagonal shape.
Ventral: 
200-217 (234); anal undivided (entire).
Sub Caudal: 
33-52 and undivided.
Habitat: 
Distributed in variety of forests including rainforest; dry, moist, mixed deciduous forest, scrub forest, wetlands, grasslands etc. Lives in almost all kinds of habitat suitable for snakes and wide range of elevations (plains and hills); this includes urban settlement, dense & open forest, hills, agricultural lands, rocky terrain etc. Prefers wet surrounding for activity.
Natural History: 
Common Krait is exclusively a nocturnal species and shows activity from late evening to early morning. Activity usually terrestrial but climbs well on rough surfaces in search of prey and hide. Remain hidden in dark and silent places like rat holes, termite mounds, variety of caves, old tree mounds, under rocks etc. during day time. Behavior shy and usually non-offensive. At day time it become quite docile and less resisting while at night it becomes aggressive, sharp and alert for foraging. In defensive response it makes call like coil of body and try to hide its head under it. Flattens its most of the body on ground in aggression and can bite on further disturbance. Mating season begins with summer and female lays eggs in mound, holes, dense & dry leaf litters etc. in very secretive manner. Hatching occurs during start of monsoon mostly. Male combat also observed in this species during post winter and summer months.
Diet: 
Feeds majorly on other snakes and rodents. Also feeds on frogs, toads and lizards.
Bite symptoms: 

Bungarus caeruleus venom causes abdominal pain
and progressive paralysis of the peripheral nervous system, leading
to respiratory paralysis and death due to asphyxia. Early signs include
abdominal pain, headache, convulsions; paralysis usually starts with the
eyelids and other muscles of the face. Early assisted ventilation and airway
management are crucial and life-saving.

Threats: 
Threats includes killing due to its highly venomous nature. This is probably the most common venomous snake found in road kills. Venom of Common Krait is considered to be medically useful and so it comes under venom trade with high demand and price. In many parts of its range it is exploited for edible and skin trade.
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