Though this photo was actually submitted by a guy in Borneo, Malaysia – thanks Ryzal Manan! – this Banded Krait looks exactly as one in Thailand might look so I wanted to share the image with you.
This snake is quite deadly – and should be avoided at all costs. Yellow Banded Kraits and Malayan Blue Kraits – and the other kraits in southeast Asia tend to bite people that are sleeping on the floor or ground – or in their beds. For some reason the kraits end up in bed with victims a lot.
The dangerous kraits can be identified rather well if they are adult, because they are thicker than the wolf snakes or bridle snakes in Thailand that they resemble. A mature krait is as thick as your wrist, or a thick shovel handle. If you look at the white and black bands – you can see – they are very thick in comparison to wolf or bridle snakes – an inch or more in thickness.
Though this isn’t always a good identifier in all cases because the many-banded krait can have thinner white bands, and more of them than the krait pictured above.
Be careful with any snake that looks anything like this snake!
Thanks again Ryzal Manan for the photo. Ryzal said this krait was seen at about 1:00 am.
Thanks too, to Tom Charlton who corrected my initial label of “Malayan Blue Krait” to “Yellow Banded Krait”. The fact that it’s white and black means little… it’s a yellow banded krait! See the high vertebral ridge? Just like the yellow banded kraits you’ll see on this site. Tom said Borneo doesn’t have the Malayan Blue Kraits. Cheers Tom!
Note: About 50% of all bites from this krait results in human death – even with the administration of anti-venin. Death is the usual result if no treatment is given. The closely related Bungarus multicinctus is ranked 3rd in the world for toxicity of venom (terrestrial snakes). Do be careful.
Bungarus candidus (Malayan Krait or Blue Krait)
Thais say: Ngoo tap saming kla, or ngoo kan plong
Length: Max length about 1.6 meters in Thailand.
Range: All over Thailand and much of southeast Asia.
Notes: I’ve seen these dead on the side of the road near rubber plantations. Their head is not nearly as large as the yellow/black banded krait. Be careful!
Habitat: Like flat country. Not found higher than 1200 m vertically often. Like to be close to water. Likes rice fields and rice dams. Likes to invade rat holes and use as a nest.
Active Time? The snake is mainly active at night and are not fond of the sunshine. They are shy and attempt to cover their head with their tales.
Food: Other snakes – primarily, but also lizards, mice, frogs and other small animals.
Defensive Behavior: Not usually very aggressive. Shy. They don’t bite unless provoked. Stepping too close to one might get you bit.
Venom Toxicity: Very toxic – even many times more so than the Naja kaouthia (cobras). Bungarus krait venom is neuro-toxic and attacks the human nervous system, shutting it down. Coma, brain death, and suffocation due to paralysis of the muscles necessary to breathe (diaphragm) are frequent causes of death. Death results usually 12-24 hours after a bite that is not treated. Little or no pain is usually felt at the bite location. The black/white kraits in Thailand are more toxic to humans than are the yellow/black kraits. The yellow-black kraits (Bungarus fasciatus) can still kill you easily.
Here’s a short overview of what happened to one victim of a bite by Bungarus candidus (black-white striped krait):
A patient bitten by Bungarus candidus (Malayan krait) developed nausea, vomiting, weakness, and myalgia 30 minutes after being bitten. One hour later, ptosis and occulomotor palsies as well as tightness of his chest were noted. Respiratory failure requiring mechanical respiration appeared 8 hours after the bite and lasted for nearly 96 hours. The two bite sites were virtually painless and resulted in slight transient erythema and edema. No specific antivenin was available, and treatment consisted of respiratory support and management of aspiration pneumonitis. Recovery was complete. (Department of Medicine, Chulalongkorn University Hospital and the Queen Saovabha Memorial Institute of the Thai Red Cross Society, Bangkok, Thailand)
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. Handholding the kraits for any reason seems rather absurd to me, yet snake-handlers across the globe do it regularly. The krait venom is so toxic, it’s just not worth the risk – however small.
Anti-venin: There is a specific krait antivenin that is given for krait bites. If you don’t have access to that antivenin you can ask the hospital if they have Tiger Snake antivenin – which can be used as a substitute for krait antivenin and works quite well.
Offspring: Lays 4-10 eggs. Juveniles are 30 cm long at birth. Hatch in June-July.