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Bungarus caeruleus (Schneider, 1801)

Bungarus is a genus of venomous snake species belonging to family Elapidae: The Kraits are dispersed throughout the South and Southeast Asia...

Bungarus is a genus of venomous snake species belonging to family Elapidae: The Kraits are dispersed throughout the South and Southeast Asia. Currently including about 15 species viz., B. andamanensis, B. bungaroides, B. caeruleus,, B. candidus, B. ceylonicus B. fasciatus B. flaviceps, B. lividus, B. magnimaculatus. B. multicinctus B. niger, B. persicus, B. sindanus, & B. slowinskii. The average length of Kraits, range within 3.3 ft. to 4.10 ft., however individuals of about 6ft. have also been sighted. Bungarus fasciatus (Banded krait) of this genus may grow above 6 ft. in length. The individuals of this genus are covered with smooth & shiny scales. The scales of these species along the vertebral rim of the back are hexagonal. The head in species of this genus is slender and the eyes having round pupils where their tails taper towards the end. 

Kraits are ophiophagous in nature, prey mainly on other species of snakes including both venomous non venomous and are cannibalistic also (feed on other kraits). Sometimes may take mice and other small lizards. All of the species of genus Bungarus are nocturnal. These snakes generally do not show aggressiveness during the daylight but at nights they become more active. When provoked theses snakes become very aggressive. They are slightly timid and often hide their heads making coil of their bodies for protection. Kraits are oviparous species of snakes, where females of these species place a clutch of 12 to 14 eggs in heaps of leaf litter and stays their until the eggs hatch. 

Genus Bungarus contains some species which are among the most venomous land snakes in the world. They have extremely strong neurotoxic venom which persuades muscle paralysis. This venom contains bungarotoxins which affects the capability of neuron endings to accurately discharge the element that sends signals to the next neuron, following over excitation, cramps, tremors & spasms, finally leading to paralysis. 

Common Krait| Bungarus caeruleus (Schneider, 1801) 

Bungarus caeruleus commonly known as Indian krait or Common krait is a venomous species of snake belonging to genus Bungarus of Elapidae family found within Indian subcontinent. Common krait is also the member of Big four group, who causes the most snake bites in India.


The average size recorded in these species is about 3 ft. but sometime may grow upto 5.9 ft. Males in this species are always longer in length with long tails. Head is observed flat and the neck is not very distinct. Bodies are cylindrical and are tapering towards their tail. The tail is usually short and curvy. The eyes are somewhat small, having rounded pupils. Head shields are normal, having no loreals whereas four shields are there along the boundary of the lower lips. The third and fourth supra-ocular scales are in contact with eye. The dorsal scales are highly smooth & shiny (15-17 rows) having milky white crossbars over the body whereas the vertebral row of scale is specifically enlarged and are hexagonal in shape. Ventral scales are 185-225 in number and Sub-caudal scales are undivided (30-53). This is one of the highly venomous species of snake found within Indian subcontinent.
               Scientific classification
Kingdom:
Animalia
Phylum:
Chordata
Class:
Reptilia
Order:
Squamata
Suborder:
Serpentes
Family:
Elapidae
Genus:
Bungarus
Species:
caeruleus
Binomial name
Bungarus caeruleus
(Schneider, 1801)

Within its range, it is found in a variety of habitation ranging from low-lying steppes to high hills, at elevations of about 1700 m.asl. The species resides from rainforests to scrub forests, from dry to moist or mixed deciduous forest, from semi-deserts to wetlands, & from grasslands to agricultural lands or rocky terrain. Theses snakes also settled around human rural and urban settlement, that’s why most of the times they can be sighted inside human dwellings during the nighttime. This is one of the prime causes that this fellow of the "big four group" is accountable for maximum number of snake bites in India. 

Generally, common kraits stay hidden in termite dunes, crevices, under wreckages, brick heaps, rat holes, even in homesteads and in home precincts, and can only been sighted during late nights, but rarely can been observed during daytime. The species is habitually terrestrial but are also capable of climbing well over rough sides in search of food and for hiding places also. 

Therefore it is entirely nocturnal species of snakes by showing activities only from dusk to dawn. However during the day this species is usually quite docile, unaggressive and shy snake, but during the onset of night they convert into a highly active and aggressive one. Body coloration is black or bluish black normally having white crossbars all over the body which may be hazy or absent anteriorly. In young kraits this form is however complete, which are noticeable even anteriorly whereas in adults, the slight white lines can be observed as a series of linked spots having a prominent spot over the vertebral area. A snowy pre-ocular spot can be noticeable. The upper lips, lower lips and the belly is milky white in colour.


Mating occurs in early summer after which female’s lays eggs in termite mound, rat holes & inside leaf clutters where hatchlings can be seen through monsoon months. It shows cannibalism in feeding (feed on other kraits). However mainly feed on other species of snakes. While sometimes may also take small mammals, lizards and frogs. Juvenile are known to have arthropods This species is found almost everywhere within India, but also found in Bangladesh, Pakistan, Sri-Lanka, Afghanistan and Nepal. 

The species possess venom that contains powerful neurotoxins (presynaptic and postsynaptic neurotoxins), which persuade muscle paralysis, generally affecting the nerve endings near the synaptic cleft of the brain. Symptoms of kraits bite normally shows slight or no pain. Usually, bite victim complains of severe abdominal cramps, followed by paralysis & if death occurs, it takes near about 4 to 8 hours. Prime cause of those deaths is respiratory failure (suffocation). 

Characters of species observed in Bhopal, MP
Characteristics
Range
Full body length
482 mm-792 mm
Snout-vent length
415 mm-625 mm
Tail length
67 mm-87 mm
**Dorsal scales (A:M:P)
15/15/15
Supra-labial scales
7/7
Infra-labial scales
7/7
Ventral scales
201-210
Anal scale
Single
Sub-caudal scales
46-49
**Note: A- Anterior; M-Mid-body; P-Posterior
Unfortunately, if bitten by any means bitten by krait while asleep, a casualty may not even realize weather he has been bitten by the krait, as the bite of this snake species felts like that of an ant or of the mosquito. The victims may even die without waking up. Kraits bite is substantial for prompting negligible amount of local inflammation or swelling. Some other symptoms may occur such as contraction of the facial muscles within 1 – 2 hours of the bite and failure in talk or to see. 
The species is usually got killed at sight owing to its venomous nature, because of its nocturnal behavior it is the most common species that gets killed on roads. 

Literature Cited: 

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Herps Of Doda: Bungarus caeruleus (Schneider, 1801)
Bungarus caeruleus (Schneider, 1801)
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Herps Of Doda
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