English Name : Common Krait Scientific Name : Bungarus caeruleus
Family : Elaphidae
Tamil Name : Kattu viriyan
Description: It is a smooth scaled snake which is glossy black; pale faded bluish gray or dark brownish black with narrow white bands that continue to tip of short tail. Its underside is glossy or yellowish white. Scales on dorsal side are hexagonal which is an indicative feature of the snake..
Distribution & status: Most of mainland India. Uncommon in Bengal, Orissa and Assam where the banded krait is found. They are very common in some areas because they are able to survive with mankind. Kraits are mainly snakes of the plains. They are sometimes common in areas of coastal Tamil Nadu.
Habitat: This is a nocturnal snake found resting in termite mounds, rodent burrows, piles of brick and rubble and even in rolled up carpets by daytime.
Habits: They sometimes find shelter in rat burrows to emerge for hunting during the night. It is found in farms and gardens near water. Adults grow to 100 cm in length. Males are sometimes territorial at certain times of the year.
Food : It is a cannibal and eats other snakes. It also sometimes eats rodents, lizards and frogs.
Life cycle: Lays close to about 6-12 eggs which hatch about 60 days later. The female stays with the egg during incubation. This is one of the four most common venomous snake of India for which treatment in the form of anti venom serum is available. Most people get bitten in the night and the bite is not as painfull as a cobra or a viper bite. Krait venom causes nerve paralysis. A suspected krait bite must be treated immediately in a hospital. Luckily anti venom is available for this snake bite.
Role in the environment: It is cannibal hence requires a large population of snakes for survival. Due to this it is considered an indicator of snake diversty. Kraits venom is used for preparing Anti venom serum which is a life saving drug
Photo source: Dr. J. Subramanean