Sunday, 1 May 2011

Krait

Image via Wikipedia
Kraits are horrifically venomous snakes that are found in India, Sri Lanka, parts of Pakistan and much of southeast Asia. They are elapids, which means they are closely related to other venomous terrors including some of the ones that get called cobras or adders. At least they have nice, round pupils rather than those mean, old slits so many other snakes have.

There are 12 species of Krait. Most of them are a metre or two in length and have a lovely sheen about them from their smooth, glossy scales. Most are banded with black and lighter coloured stripes. Some are black and yellow, others black and brown, one rather beautiful Krait has a red head and tail.

The red tail probably has something to do with defence. Kraits are nocturnal and hide out in termite mounds or rodent burrows by day. They are very lethargic and docile at this time, they really don't want any trouble. If disturbed, they tend to coil up with their head buried away, perhaps with their tail whipping around as a distraction. It kind of reminds me of when I really didn't want to go to school in the morning. Come the night though, things are a little different. I probably just watched the telly or something, Kraits are far more exciting.

While they will also feast on frogs, lizards and mammals, Kraits tend to prefer hunting other snakes. The bite is lethal and then prey is swallowed head first. I guess it must take a bit of time for a snake to swallow a snake whole, but that's what they do. It's at this time, when Kraits are active and some of them even quite aggressive, that bites on humans occur.


Krait venom contains a neurotoxin that affects the ability of messages to travel along the nerves. Basically, all the worst problems are to do with paralysis. It starts off with severe abdominal cramps before paralysis starts to set in, often starting in the eyelids because the muscles there have so many nerves in them. While there might be almost no pain at all from the site of the actual bite, death will normally occur 6 to 12 hours later due to paralysis of the diaphragm and subsequent suffocation. Not good. At all.

For the Krait, this venom is great because it can quickly paralyse a snake that may itself have lethal venom. Some Kraits even hunt other Kraits, so a heavy dose of venom is injected to bring about instant paralysis. For humans, antivenom and a swift trip to the hospital saves many lives. Nevertheless, this is clearly a group of snakes to be avoided like the plague, speeding bullets or any number of other things that might kill you.

6 comments:

Emma Springfield said...

These sound like something I should avoid.

Comment1 said...

My work here is done!

Clrbear said...

Looks like this snake would make a great pet!

Comment1 said...

Haha! With a strong cage and a long stick, it could work!

Om said...

In Rajasthan desert area there is a rumor @
A red spot snake knwn as pivna ( breath sucker)
Dose it really do so? I mean it suckes human breath and victim die!!!
How it is possible?
Is this snake is one type of krait
I think so""""
Pls give ur valuable opinion.... Om Bishnoi

Joseph Jameson-Gould said...

I very much doubt it's true! I found this post mentioning the rumour:

http://www.landofthewild.com/showPlacesAlbum.php?&pageNo=&albumId=2352&albumTitle=Desert+Expedition+2007

It mentions two different kinds of this snake. One is a Krait, which would be dangerous because of its venom. The other was a Red-spotted Royal Snake, which is completely harmless.

To me, snakes simply don't "suck breathe". There are constrictors who suffocate their prey so they can eat them, and there are others who use venom. They can also bite in self-defence. But no snake maliciously takes the time and effort to suffocate something and then just leaves the body.

I always find it difficult to accept the idea of a wild animal who attacks or kills humans in a way that it doesn't attack or kill any other living thing in existence. Most animals are unable to hate humans or seek revenge. They just do what they need to do to survive.

Snakes simply don't find humans as important as we do!

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