Tag Archive | "Bungarus fasciatus"

Banded Kraits Mating Through a Net Fence in Udonthani, Thailand

I was going to wait until I had time to post this, but I just can’t – I’m too excited to show it to you all.

This was sent to me by John Oles from Udonthani, Thailand. Instead of retell the story, I’ll post what he sent to me:

I live 18km outside of the city of Udon (NE Thailand).  About 3 weeks ago a friend was visiting our property.  After supper, I took him to the far corner of our yard to view the fireflies, about 8PM. The area is heavily shaded (during the day) with native trees and is on what my wife calls a giant termite pile (emphasis on giant). It’s pretty much a swampy area, except for on the approximately 30m square termite pile. The area has mongoose, wild ducks, and white rump shamas as well. As we were entering that area, we noticed a yellow krait off to the side of the trail. When we looked closer (but not too close!), it appeared to be one krait (the shiny one) eating another krait (the not so shiny one that’s on the other side of the netting). But as we observed a bit closer, we could see the tails of the two snakes intertwined, apparently mating.
Our best guess was that the shinier of the two kraits was about 1.5 meters, while the duller of the two appears to be slightly shorter.
The snakes made no attempt to strike. The male finally broke away from the female after we observed for about 10 minutes…….that’s when we left as well.

Hope this provides some insight into the yellow kraits in the NE of Thailand.

It definitely does provide some insight. Establishing that banded kraits (Bungarus fasciatus) mate at night in Udonthani in October – on 10/9/11. It also shows that barriers to sexual union might not be barriers at all. Species can cross from one habitat to another despite barriers. Sure it’s not a river, but it’s something to see that snakes disregard the net between them and find a way to mate with the obstacle between them.

If you look at the close up photo – they appear to be mating from opposite sides of the netting. Is that great, or what?

Photos all courtesy of John and Copyright 2011 John Oles.

Banded Kraits - Bungarus fasciatus - Mating in Udonthani, Thailand in early October, 2011.

Copyright 2011 John Oles.

Bungarus fasciatus snakes mating – close up. Netting of fence seems to be between them:

There is very little on Wikipedia about the breeding behavior of these snakes, I’ll post what is there and have a look around for more information to post later.

From Wikipedia for Bungarus fasciatus:

Little is known of its breeding habits. In Myanmar, a female has been dug out while incubating a clutch of 8 eggs, four of which hatched in May. Young have been recorded to measure 298 to 311mm on hatching. The snake is believed to become adult in the third year of its life, at an approximate length of 914mm

From Joachim Bullian’s “Siam-Info.de” – a great resource for snake information:

The mating season for this subspecies (Bungarus fasciatus) is in the months of March and April. About 2 months after mating, the female lays 4 to 14 eggs. The females remain with the clutch of eggs until the young animals have hatched. Contrary to pythons these snakes do not incubate the eggs but only guard them. The incubation period of the eggs amounts to between 60 and 64 days. The new born animals are between 32 and 34 centimetres long.

So, these snakes mating in October shows that there are multiple times of year these snakes are capable of mating in Thailand. Perhaps it varies by location in Thailand?

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Thailand Snake Journal – 3 Deadly Kraits

As I mentioned in the snake journal post previous to this one I got a call to come and see some kraits at my friend’s place. I just returned from there and he had a number of snakes that I shot video of including the Ridley’s Racer, Mangrove Snake, Red-Tailed Racer, and the Yellow Banded Kraits.

Apparently he knows a guy in another Thailand province that is able to get snakes on a regular basis. Probably the guy catches them for people that call to have dangerous snakes taken away from their homes. Here in Krabi we don’t have many of the ngoo sam leeum (Bungaris fasciatus), Banded Kraits for some reason. I’ve yet to see this yellow – black snake dead on the road in three years – so that tells me they are rather rare. One of my friends works at a snake show and he also goes out to villagers homes when they call to have a snake removed. He said he has never seen the yellow-black banded krait before. He has been in Krabi for three years.

The banded krait is not nearly as deadly as it’s sister, the Malayan Krait – the black and white variety. It’s damn toxic, but you probably are not going to die from a bite from this snake as long as you are treated at a hospital quickly when your breathing stops, which it almost inevitably does.

There is little pain at the bite site with toxic krait bites that result in envenomation. The venom starts working on the nerves of the muscles first. If you’re interested in exactly how someone dies from a bite from a krait you should get the book, “The Snake Charmer”. Joe Slowinski details the effects of a bite he took from a many banded krait in Burma while on a herping field trip (expedition). The many banded krait was a 10″ baby that bit him for about 10 seconds one witness stated. That’s a long bite. The venom of that krait was ranked third in toxicity for all terrestrial snakes in the world. The inland taipan and the brown snake of Australia were first and second in strength of venom.

So I was able to touch the tail and back of the banded kraits today. The kraits have a triangle cross sectional shape to their bodies. Hence the reason Thais call them lee-um – which means triangle in Thai. These banded kraits have the most pronounced triangle shape to them, versus the Malayan Blue Krait (black – white kraits) or the Red Headed Krait.

Bungaris fasciatus are rather shy during the daylight hours, and not at their peak form. I was in the cage with 3 of them and walked toward them and they shuddered. I think you’ll see it on the video. They shake strongly – perhaps to tell you they are there – and warning you not to step on them. When there eyes were uncovered they did it in response to me raising my hands above them. Then, when both heads were buried under their bodies they did it when I walked close on the gravel next to them. The floor of the cage is concrete and transferred the vibration well.

My friend picked up the kraits a couple of times and though one of them appeared aggravated, and I thought it would bite him, it did not try. They do tend to jerk in a spasm though – even when held by the tail and dangling – probably to show their discomfort at being handled.

I’d love to get some close up video of the inside of the kraits mouth and rear-fangs if possible. It will probably take a while before he’s comfortable to do that. These snakes are very powerful. When they move you can tell – they are strong and have lots of energy when they want to. They are primarily snake eaters, and eat venomous as well as non-venomous snakes.

The maximum size yellow banded kraits get here in Thailand is about 1.6 meters. All three of the specimens I saw today were just less than that in size, and yet still very impressive.

If you are in southern Thailand and you’ve never seen a banded krait close-up and personal before maybe I can get you a private audience with one. Zap me an email. If too many people write, I won’t be able to help anyone, but if only 1-2 of you, then yes, that’s doable.

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Thailand Snake Journal – Kraits

Got  a call from my favorite Thai friend this morning…

Friend: Vern?

Me: How’s it going man?

Friend: Good. I have 3 kraits.

Me: SCORE! What time can I come to see them?

Friend: 3pm is good

Me: Excellent – see you then, thanks man.

This guy is well-connected in the Thailand snake world, and he’s had an “order” in for  some of these kraits for a long time now. I guess with all the rain, and probably some night herping – these guys were able to find three kraits. I’ll find out what exactly they have today at 3pm. There’s a good possibility I’ll be getting one as I’ve told this guy repeatedly – I’d like to have one or two.

This krait call was such a rush… it goes right along with last night eating dinner at one of my favorite restaurants. I started herping around and looking for snakes there. There weren’t any other customers – just us, and the place had a marsh in back of it and numerous small ponds with frogs all over the place. It’s snake central over there – I’m sure.

I asked the owner’s son whether they found many snakes and told him that I collect the venomous snakes. He said – Ngoo Sam Lee-um in Thai – it’s a Bungarus Fasciatus. I said, YEAH! I probably scared the poor kid. He told me where he’s seen it before. I’ll go back for some night herping as soon as I get up the strength for some night herping. Maybe wait for a group to come herping with me as I’m sure that place holds more than just Bungarus.

Anyone up for finding kraits at night?

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Banded Krait – Venomous – Deadly

These are yellow and black kraits. There are also Blue Kraits which are black and white. And the red headed krait which looks nothing like either of them.

Banded Krait Snake at Bangkok, Thailand Snake Farm

Yellow Banded Krait. Highly venomous, deadly, and relatively common in Thailand. There is a white and black version also called the Blue Krait. See page on right side. This photo is of a man at the Red Cross Snake Farm in Bangkok.

Bungarus Fasciatus (Banded Krait)

Thais say: (ngoo sam lee-um, or ngoo kan plong) This is a bit confused in Thailand where, in southern Thailand any viper is known as Ngoo sam lee-um. Lee-um means triangle, and so some people confuse triangle shaped heads of the vipers with triangle cross-section of the kraits.

Length: average 1.5m up to 2m (about 6.5 feet) In Thailand they don’t usually reach a full 2m.

Range: All over Thailand and most of Asia

Notes: I have yet to see a live banded krait in the wild, except a few dead on the roads – but I don’t go digging up ratholes or termite mounds. I may start if I don’t find one soon. I’ve been looking for 3 years to find a krait with yellow and black bands like these. At dinner last night I was looking around a small restaurant with many ponds, for snakes. I asked the owner’s son if they had seen any. He said, Ngoo Sam lee-um. SCORE. That’s the one! I’ll get their permission for some late night herping and try to bag one. I’m sure they’ll appreciate it. This restaurant is located on a small hill close to sea-level in southern Thailand. There are many frogs at the ponds, and probably many snakes too.

Habitat: The snake lives on the ground and in rat holes and termite mounds, under stumps or rocks and in other cool, damp places. Recently I saw photos of one in some limestone rocks here in Thailand. I’ve seen large 2m dead banded krait just on the outside of a rubber plantation. They prefer wide open areas. They have been found as high as 5,000 feet in Malaysia and about 2,300 meters in Thailand.

Active Time? The snake is mostly nocturnal and is quite active at night. Most bites occur at night, as the kraits move close to people sleeping – usually on the floor, and probably the person moves and the krait bites. More dangerous at night, during the day they are not biters.

Food: Other snakes almost exclusively – rat and cat (Boiga) snakes. One noted herpetologist states that kraits don’t like to eat water snakes. Will also eat rats, mice, frogs, lizards if snakes cannot be found.

Defensive Behavior: The banded krait is slow acting during the day, lethargic, and usually not interested in striking. However, it can protect itself quite well – it is a strong biter and has been recorded as killing a large type of cattle 60 minutes after a bite.

Venom Toxicity: Very toxic. Deadly. This yellow/black banded krait from Thailand is less toxic to humans than monocled cobra venom is, but still QUITE deadly. These snakes rarely bite during the day, but if they do, they can transfer enough venom to kill you. Literature shows someone dying in 30 minutes, another dying in 15 hours. A famous American herpetologist, Joe Slowinski, was killed by a baby krait (Bungarus multicinctus) in Burma while on a remote expedition. They can be quite deadly. The cause of death is that your muscles are paralyzed and your diaphragm can’t work any longer to pull oxygen into your lungs. Kraits are very deadly in this regard. However, if you are able to get to a hospital with a ventilator you will likely be OK. There is no specific antivenin for snake bites from this snake.

Interesting to note… when fed on a live garter snake the krait venom acts instantly to cause death. Apparently krait venom is very efficient with snakes – the krait’s primary diet.

Handling: The banded and Malayan blue kraits are not known to bite during the daytime. However, at night time they bite rather easily, as evidenced by the numerous krait bites that occur at night to people usually laying down to sleep on the floor. I would never handhold kraits like the man is doing in the photo above. The krait venom is so toxic, it’s just not worth the risk – however small.

Anti-venin: There is a specific krait anti-venom. If the hospital you are at does not have it there is another anti-venin from a “Tiger snake” that can be used instead – it is also effective. It is advised by experts to get antivenin in your blood stream for krait bites before you have symptoms because, once symptoms develop you may have lost nerve functioning that will not return.

Offspring: Mating in March-April and 4-14 eggs laid about 60 days afterward. The mother krait remains with the eggs for another 60 days before they hatch. Baby kraits are about 30cm long at birth, and have venom. I couldn’t find in the literature whether the mother left the eggs as they started hatching – so she didn’t eat them herself or not. The King Cobra does this instinctively because it also eats other snakes.

Banded Krait’s Scientific classification

Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Subphylum: Vertebrata
Class: Reptilia
Order: Squamata
Suborder: Serpentes
Family: Elapidae
Genus: Bungarus
Species: B. fasciatus

Binomial name
Bungarus fasciatus
Classified by Schneider in year 1801

Photo of 2 Adult Banded Kraits:

2 Banded Kraits - Bungarus fasciatus from southern Thailand, Nakhon si Thammarat province.

Quite deadly, but shy snakes - see the video below.

Video of me with 3 Banded Kraits from Nakhon Si Thammarat, southern Thailand:

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Thailand has 200+ snake species with over 60 of them - venomous. I created this site as a way to educate Thais and visitors to Thailand about snakes. Many people kill the snakes they see in Thailand, while in many cases - they are non-venomous and completely harmless. With this site I hope to give people a better idea what is harmful and what isn't.

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