Common krait (Bungarus caeruleus)
Common krait (Bungarus caeruleus)
Other names- Kall gandhaej (Hindi ), kaala saap(Hindi),
Manyar (Marathi), Kalotro(Gujrati), Kalach, domnachiti & shiyar shanda
(Bangali), Kattu viriyan(Tamil), Valakozhupan, Ettadi veeran (Malayalam) .
Length: Hatchlings about 10-11 inches and adults can be about 4ft and above. There are records about snakes above 5.5ft also.
Dorsal body: Body shape slender with shiny smooth scales of black color range.
Body colour :
Jet Black (commonly), Grayish Black, Purplish Black, Brownish Black (rarely) or
Reddish Black. Presence of milky white bands on the dorsal body is the main visible
feature of Common Krait. These bands are often paired and starts from 10-15th ventral
scale in the form of white patch at the back scale and starts expanding as bands on
moving towards the tail. Specimens without the bands also recorded from many parts
of the range. The vertebral scales are hexagonal in shape in all the Krait species and
this is a definite identification feature of the snake.
South Indian specimens have broader bands than specimens from rest of India with
appearance like Barred Wolf snake. While specimens from Eastern parts also have
broader bands with Purplish tint on whole body.
|White bands and Hexagoanal shaped vertibral scale on Common Krait.|
Ventral body: Belly color is Milky White or Yellowish-White. At the edge of ventral
scales Reddish, Brownish or Bluish color tint present which extends up to the side
dorsal scales. Sub caudal scales are unpaired which is also a main characteristic of
Bungarus (Krait) genus.
Head: Head is depressed with a rounded snout. Head is slightly broader than the neck.
Rostral scale of the upper lip not totally black but having yellowish white color at lower
side and blackish on upper portion. Preocular scale also has yellowish or white spot in
most of specimens. Eyes are small and entirely Black. Tongue is light Red or Pinkish
Tail: Short and pointed. Typical white Bands are present in almost all the specimens and clearer than mid body bands.
Key characters for identification-
1. Black body with Milky White bands (often paired).
2. Vertebral scales are Hexagonal in shape.
3. Subcaudal scales are undivided.
Looks like - Common Wolf snake, Barred Wolf snake, Banded Racer juvenile and Sub adult, other Krait species except Banded Krait.
Scalation : Head- 7 Supra labials; 3rd & 4th touches eyes; 1 Preocular touches posterior Nasal hence Loreal absent in Kraits; Nasal pit is of Pink color clearly; 2 Postocular; Temporals 1+2. Dorsal- Scales smooth with 15-15-15 rows in all over the body upto starting of tail. 8th scale which is at the top of the dorsal body is largest then rest dorsal scales and have Hexagonal shape. Ventral- 200-217(234); Anal Undivided (entire) Subcaudal : - 33-52 and undivided.
Behavior : Like all krait species, Common Krait is a nocturnal species. During day time it prefers
to remain hidden in dark and cool places such as dry mud holes, under debris, piles
of stone or bricks, logs etc. Often found inside and near human settlements and got a
strange liking for hiding places inside houses.
Kraits are defensive and docile during the day. During night, it shows aggressive nature.
People who handle kraits during rescues agree to this typical behavior. If disturbed
during the day time, it will form a loose snake ball by coiling itself around, with its
head hidden inside the coil. The same snake will behave differently at night, shows a bit of aggressive offensive nature.
Kraits feed on almost all Kind of snakes including other Kraits and Cobras. Other
animals include Lizards, Frogs and Rodents. They can feed on shrew and checkered keel back also which other snakes avoid in most of encounters. In search of food they can climb trees, walls etc.
|Common krait ( Bungarus caeruleus ) feeding on wolf snake ( Lycodon aulics) Photo : vivek Sharma|
Reproduction in Kraits has not been extensively studied. The mating season starts
early summer. Typically the mating ritual includes male combat and selection of a right mate. The females lay 8 to 12 eggs during the months of March to June depending on the geographical location. Incubation period is around 2 months (approximately 60 days)
|Common krait ( Bungarus caeruleus )with brownish coloration. note that the white paired bands are not clearly visible. This could be mistaken for a harmless wolf snake.
Photo : Dharmendra Trivedi , Gujarat.