Sunday 29 May 2011

Sea Krait

Image via Wikipedia
So we've seen the Kraits, now it's time to have a look at some of their close relatives, the Sea Kraits. As you will have guessed, Sea Kraits are aquatic and have many similarities to the usual land living Kraits. I have to be honest though, I don't actually know if Sea Kraits are really, really closely related to Kraits or only quite closely related. Still, they're definitely at least quite closely related!

Let's take a look at some of those similarities. For one, they are found in the same part of the world, just the more watery bits. Sea Kraits range from India to all those southeast Asian islands but also all the way across to Fiji and north to Japan. They also have the round pupils of elapid snakes and most have the black and light banded pattern of Kraits. Another similarity between Kraits and Sea Kraits is an interesting one - land.

You see, when it comes to being a sea snake, Sea Kraits are neither committed nor particularly good at it. They actually spend quite a lot of time on land. I would have said they're putting a finger in both pies or a foot in both doors, but... it's a snake.

Unlike other sea snakes, Sea Kraits still have the long scales running along their bellies. These are great for crawling on land but they are useless for swimming. They also have scales in between their nostrils that push them to the sides of the snout. Other sea snakes lack these, so their nostrils point straight upwards which is much better for taking a breath of air from the water's surface. To make matters worse, they also have the poorest paddle power of any sea snake. The tail is flattened to help push through the water with (prepare yourself) serpentine movements, but the Sea Krait has a tiny little fin compared to those of their fellow seafarers. They probably don't get teased that much, though. Not with that venom.

Indeed, this is the other similarity with Kraits. While Kraits used their incredibly potent venom to quickly subdue snakes that could potentially be equally venomous, Sea Kraits use their own to ensure they don't have to chase prey since that's a race they couldn't hope to win. I find it quite funny that Sea Kraits still focus their attention on long, thin animals. Not snakes, but eels such the Moray and the conger. One piece of good news is that Sea Krait bites (on humans) are extremely rare. They appear to be remarkably docile, to the point where you could almost say that they choose to be harmless. I don't recommend you test that out, though.

Many Sea Kraits must return to land in order to mate. They also do it to drink freshwater from rain puddles and such, but they probably find mating much more interesting. Females can be seen utterly swarmed by males like a scene from... from (I was going to say something like "Star Trek convention" but let's be honest) almost any social gathering, except with more, you know... eggs. About a dozen or so eggs are laid in a nest but these are very seldom found. I guess a lady must have her secrets, especially after all those males.


Video taken from the Life series:

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TexWisGirl said...

a sea snake that is poorly equipped. made me chuckle.

Joseph JG said...

Yeh! It's seems quite odd but I guess it's good enough for them. They do better than I do, that's for sure.

Emma Springfield said...

Usually you read about animals that are semi-aquatic that must return to the water to mate. These return to land. Interesting.

Joseph JG said...

Hey, yeh! I hadn't thought of that!