Greater black krait
|Greater black krait|
This species is medium in length, slender-bodied, and triangular in cross-section, with a short, pointed tail. It can grow to a maximum of about 1.3 m (4.3 ft), but adults usually average around 0.8 m (2.6 ft). The head is flat and slightly distinct from the neck. The eyes are small to medium in size, black with round pupils. Dorsal scales are smooth and glossy with scales of the vertebral row enlarged and hexagonal. Dorsal scale count is 15 - 15 - 15. It is syntopic with the lesser black krait (Bungarus lividus), but can be separated by the enlarged dorsal vertebral scales. The number of ventral and subcaudals are higher than in all other Bungarus species (216-231 ventrals and 47-57 subcaudals).
Distribution and habitat
It is found in India mainly along the sub-Himalayas from Uttarakhand in the west to Arunachal Pradesh as well as in Nepal, Bhutan, Pakistan and Bangladesh. The species was described by Frank Wall from a specimen obtained from near Tindharia near Darjeeling. and the species is also available at Jalpaiguri town and other parts of the district. This species inhabits a wide variety of habitats from mangrove swamps to inhabited villages to montane forests up to elevations of 1,500 m (4,900 ft) above sea level on the Himalayan foothills.
Behavior and ecology
This nocturnal and terrestrial snake has an inoffensive disposition. When disturbed, it coils loosely and hides its head beneath its body; it is reluctant to bite except upon persistent provocation. It preys mostly on snakes and small mammals and occasionally lizards, frogs, and fish.
Its venom consists of both pre- and postsynaptic neurotoxins, and may also contain myotoxins. This snake is often overlooked, but it is a medically important species, as it has caused many bites; the mortality rate associated with it is not known, but is said to be quite high.
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