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(F. Boie, 1827)
Calliophis bivirgata, commonly called the blue Malaysian coral snake is a species of venomous elapid snake. It was first described, as a new species in scientific literature, by Friedrich Boie in 1827.
It is a medium-sized coral snake with a slender body. Adults are usually 140 centimetres (5 ft) long, though larger specimens have been captured. The color is indigo or deep blue with light blue or white stripes along each side of the body. The head, venter, and tail are usually bright red. It has a blunt snout and small eyes.
The snake, especially when juvenile, is often confused with the pink-headed reed snake (Calamaria schlegeli) as they share similar habitat and appearance. But the latter is much smaller, maximum 50 cm (20 in), than fully grown Calliophis bivirgatus. It may be dangerous to confuse these two species as the reed snake is a nonvenomous snake, whereas the blue Malaysian coral snake has a potentially lethal venom.
It inhabits humid conditions, such as the forest floor.
It is most active at night. Like the banded krait (Bungarus fasciatus), it is a timid snake during daytime and tends to avoid confrontation. However, it becomes more alert after nightfall. People are usually bitten at night when they pass by or tread on the snake unaware.
Like the New World coral snakes (genus Micrurus), it defends itself by displaying its brightly colored body. It also turns upside down to show its red belly to warn predators, hiding its head under coils of its own body and raising its tail to mimic a head to confuse predators.
It feeds almost exclusively on other snakes, including its own kind. They occasionally consume lizards, frogs and birds.
The venom is very potent and has caused deaths. Like other Elapidae, its venom is primarily neurotoxic. The bite initially has few or even no symptoms. However, after several minutes, the victim may feel numbness near the wound and lip. Soon, the victim may feel difficulty in breathing. Death is a result of respiratory failure. The venom glands of this species are exceptionally long and extend beyond the jaw for one-third the length of the body.
A chemical analysis of the venom by fractionation with a Sephadex column has identified five different fractions, S1-S5. Fraction S2 contains two phospholipases A2 — PLA2 I and PLA2 II; fraction S3 contains four cytotoxin homologues — maticotoxins A, C, D1 and D2; and fractions S4 and S5 contain a large amount (about 1 mg/specimen) of adenosine with smaller amounts of inosine and guanosine. The amino-terminal amino acid sequences of PLA2, I, PLA2 II and maticotoxin A suggest that Calliophis bivirguatus is closely related to Bungarinae, especially to genera Hemachatus and Naja.
- Grismer, L. & Chan-Ard, T. (2012). "Calliophis bivirgata". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2014.2. International Union for Conservation of Nature. Retrieved 2 November 2014.
- Calliophis bivirgata at the Reptarium.cz Reptile Database. Accessed 3 November 2014.
- Boie F. 1827. "Bemerkungen über Merrem's Versuchs eines Systems der Amphibien. 1te Lieferung: Ophidier ". Isis von Oken 20: 508-566. (Elaps bivirgatus, p. 556).
- Boulenger GA. 1896. Catalogue of the Snakes in the British Museum (Natural History). Volume III., Containing the Colubridæ (Opisthoglyphæ and Proteroglyphæ), ... London: Trustees of the British Museum (Natural History). (Taylor and FRancis, printers). xiv + 727 pp. + Plates I-XXV. (Doliophis bivirgatus, pp. 400-401).
- Das I. 2006. A Photographic Guide to Snakes and Other Reptiles of Borneo. Sanibel Island, Florida: Ralph Curtis Books. 144 pp. ISBN 0-88359-061-1. (Calliophis bivirgata [sic], p. 61).