Black-banded sea krait

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Black banded sea krait
Laticauda semifasciata.jpg
Scientific classification edit
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Reptilia
Order: Squamata
Suborder: Serpentes
Family: Elapidae
Genus: Laticauda
L. semifasciata
Binomial name
Laticauda semifasciata
(Reinwardt in Schlegel, 1837)

Platurus semifasciatus Reinwardt in Schlegel, 1837
Pseudolaticauda semifasciata (Reinwardt in Schlegel, 1837)

The black-banded sea krait, or Chinese sea snake (Laticauda semifasciata), known in Japan as erabu umi hebi (ja:エラブウミヘビ), and Okinawa as the irabu, is a member of the Laticauda genus of sea snakes. It is found in most of the warm wāters of the western Pacific Ocean.

This high snake frequents coral reef areas. It has a short head, thick trunk, and no easily discernible neck. The tail is simply extended skin, spread wide like a fin, and unsupported by any projection. Only 1 out of 3 will produce fangs[citation needed]. The stomach is comparatively wide. Massing together near the shore, they breed between narrow cracks in the reef and in caves. It is a nocturnal snake, rarely seen during the day. It breathes air, so breaks the surface at least once every six hours.

It is too slow to catch fish in a straight chase, so it hunts for fish hiding in the coral. Alternately, gathering in the hundreds, black-banded sea kraits form hunting alliances with yellow goatfish and bluefin trevally, flushing potential prey from narrow crannies in a reef the same way some moray eels do.[2][3] The bite is highly venomous and paralyzes the prey. Females lay their eggs on land.

Generally, the species is found in Fiji, southern Japan and Singapore. Their venom is ten times stronger than that of a cobra, making them extremely dangerous. This snake does not bite humans unless it feels threatened.

The erabu snake is a winter staple in southern Japan, where it is believed to replenish a female's womanhood. Irabu soup irabu-jiru (ja:イラブー汁)[4] is said to taste like miso and a bit like tuna. This soup was a part of the royal court cuisine of Ryukyu Kingdom; it is thought to have analeptic properties.

Life history[edit]

Male and female snakes reach sexual maturity at snout-vent lengths of 70 and 80 cm, respectively. Females lay 3–7 eggs that hatch after 4–5 months.[5] It can reach 170 cm in total length.[6]


  1. ^ Lane, A. & Gatus, J. (2010). "Laticauda semifasciata". The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. IUCN. 2010: e.T176721A7290432. doi:10.2305/IUCN.UK.2010-4.RLTS.T176721A7290432.en.
  2. ^ "Black-banded sea krait photo - Laticauda semifasciata - G78940". Archived from the original on 2012-10-08. Retrieved 2016-07-17.
  3. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2012-03-11. Retrieved 2015-08-18.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  4. ^ "Okinawa Gourmet Guide : Sea snake soup (Irabu-jiru) | Website of Okinawa Sightseeing information Okinawa2Go!". Archived from the original on 2013-02-18. Retrieved 2016-07-17.
  5. ^ Tu, M. C.; M. C. Tu; S. C. Fong & K. Y. Lue (1990). "Reproductive biology of the sea snake, Laticauda semifasciata, in Taiwan". Journal of Herpetology. 24 (2): 119–126. doi:10.2307/1564218. JSTOR 1564218.
  6. ^ Hans Breuer & William Christopher Murphy (2009–2010). "Pseudolaticauda semifasciata". Retrieved 7 October 2012.

Further reading[edit]

  • Schlegel, Hermann (1837). Essai sur la Physionomie des Serpens, Volume 1. Amsterdam: Schonekat. p. 516.