Bungarus fasciatus (Source)
Bungarus fasciatus Schneider, 1801
Bungarus fasciatus is a venomous elapid snake species found in India, Bangladesh and Southeast Asia. It is commonly called the banded krait.
The banded krait occurs in the whole of the Indo-Chinese subregion, the Malaysian peninsula and archipelago and Southern China.
It has been recorded from India through Maharashtra, Bihar, Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh and Andhra Pradesh, through Myanmar, Cambodia, Thailand, Laos, Vietnam and southern China (including Hong Kong) to Malaysia and the main Indonesian islands of Borneo (Java and Sumatra), as well as Singapore.
In India, it has been recorded from Northeast India, West Bengal, Orissa, parts of Maharashtra, Bihar, Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh and Andhra Pradesh. It has been recorded in Bihar and Orissa and as far south and west as Hyderabad and Warangal, Awadh, the Godavari and Mahanadi valleys. In Maharashtra it is found in Chandrapur & Gadchiroli districts.
This species is common in Assam and Bangladesh, but becomes progressively uncommon westwards in India.
The banded krait has been found in Myanmar up to an altitude of 5000 feet.
B. fasciatus is easily identified by its alternate black and yellow bands, its triangular body cross-section and the marked vertebral ridge consisting of enlarged vertebral shields along its body. The head is broad and depressed. The eyes are black. It has arrowhead-like yellow markings on its otherwise black head and has yellow lips, lore, chin and throat.
The banded krait has been recorded to grow to a length of 2.125 metres (83.7 in), but normally the maximum length encountered is 1.8 metres (71 in) or less.
The snake has an entire anal scale and single subcaudals. The tail is small and ends like a finger-tip, generally being one tenth the length of the snake.
Though venomous, banded kraits are shy, not typically seen, and are mainly nocturnal. When harassed, they will usually hide their heads under their coils, and do not generally attempt to bite, though at night they are much more active and widely considered to be more dangerous then.
During the day, they lie up in grass, pits or drains. The snakes are lethargic and sluggish even under provocation. They are most commonly seen in the rains.
The banded krait feeds mainly on other snakes, but is also known to eat fish, frogs, skinks and snake eggs. Among the snakes taken by banded kraits are: -
* Chequered keelback Xenochrophis piscator.
The prey is swallowed head first, after it has been rendered inactive by the venom.
Little is known of its breeding habits. In Myanmar, a female has been dug out while incubating a clutch of 8 eggs, four of which hatched in May. Young have been recorded to measure 298 to 311mm on hatching. The snake is believed to become adult in the third year of its life, at an approximate length of 914mm.
B. fasciatus venom is neurotoxic, and has been estimated by Col. Frank Wall in 1911 to be 1/7 to 1/14 as potent as the common cobra venom. The LD50 of banded krait venom is 1.6 mg/kg-2.4 mg/kg. There are few authenticated records of human beings having been bitten. A bullock has been reported to have died within 60 minutes of being bitten.
The polyvalent antivenin (antivenom), developed by Alan Van Dyke and available in India, is not meant to be used with this snake. No specific antivenin is available for this snake.
* Hindi - raaj saamp.
* Venom from a king cobra saved Baby Saleem from typhoid fever in Salman Rushdie's book, "Midnight's Children". It was supplied by Doctor Schaapsteker, who was obsessed with finding an antivenin for the bite of the banded krait.
* Also, Ronald Rosenblatt of the on-line "Fortean Explorer" has suggested that the "swamp adder" mentioned in Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's "The Adventure of the Speckled Band" might actually be a semifictionalized depiction of the banded krait.
1. ^ a b c d e f Smith, Malcolm A. Fauna of British India...Vol III - Serpentes, pages 411 to 413
* Boulenger, George A., (1890), The Fauna of British India including Ceylon and Burma, Reptilia and Batrachia. Taylor and Francis, London.
Source: Wikipedia, Wikispecies: All text is available under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License