Yellow-lipped Sea Krait ( Laticauda colubrina Schneider, 1799 )

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Scientific Name: 
Laticauda colubrina (Schneider, 1799)
Regional Names: 
Columbrine Sea Krait
In India this species is distributed with certainty in Andaman & Nicobar Islands only. Also found in Islands and coasts of Australia, China, El Salvador, Fiji, Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, Myanmar, New Caledonia, New Zealand, Nicaragua, Papua New Guinea, Philippines, Solomon Islands, Sri Lanka, Taiwan, Timos-Leste, Thailand, Vanuatu and Vietnam.
Characteristics for identification: 

Morphologically it looks close to other Sea Kraits but can be identified by checking higher mid body rows (21-25) and presence of azygous prefrontal shield which is absent in its sister species Blue-lipped Sea Krait (L. laticaudata).


Average length- 100cm.
Maximum length- 152.5cm.

Body -
Body cylindrical and covered with subequal smooth scales. Ground color bluish-gray with 24-64 broad black bands which can be incomplete on belly. Underside yellowish-white or white. Belly scales one third to more than half of width of body. Tail laterally compressed and oar like, bears similar dorsal bands.

Head –
Head moderate, broad but not broader than neck, snout obtusely pointed. Upper lip, snout till eyes, supraocular region yellow or yellowish-white; top of the head, posterior and below eyes black. Moderate eyes with rounded pupil.

Head scales entire; nostril lateral; nasal separated by internasals; single shield usually separates prefrontals; frontal significantly longer than its distance from tip of snout; supralabial 7-8; 3rd & 4th touches eye; preocular 1; postocular 2; temporal 1+2.
Smooth and imbricate scales in 21/23/25 rows.
213-245; clearly broader than adjacent scales; anal divided.
Sub Caudal: 
37-47 (Male), 29-35 (Female); paired.
Found in coral Islands, coral reefs, open islands, mangroves etc. Choose depth up to 10 meter for activity. After foraging it returns to land and spend rest of time there.
Natural History: 
Nocturnal, activity both terrestrial and marine. Behavior shy and usually silent. Choose caves and rock cracks of lands for roosting and egg laying. Oviparous. Female lays up to 10 eggs in crevices, caves around coasts. Its nesting is very secretive and there are very few nest sightings recorded.
Feeds mainly on eels. Female preys on larger conger eels while males choose smaller moray eels.
Major threats are disturbance and destruction of coastal environment of Islands where it is found. As this species prefers activity around coral reefs, their destruction causes its population decline in many parts. Some communities and countries consume this species for skin and edible use.
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