Red Headed Krait (Bungarus flaviceps)
Thais say: Ngoo sam lee-um hoo-uh si dang
Length: These kraits grow to just over 2 meters, though most found are under 2 meters.
Range: In Thailand the red headed krait is only found in the southern provinces from Ranong and southward. Across the globe they are most heavily concentrated in Malaysia, Borneo, and a couple other places.
Habitat: Lowlands and hilly rain forest type habitat. The last 3 of these snakes I saw were all found at at less than 200 meters elevation.
Active Time? Probably active both at night and daytime. Three of these snakes in our local area were found during the daylight. Probably they prefer the night time hours for hunting food.
Food: Some say the red headed kraits eat more frogs, lizards, eggs, and rodents than other snakes. Probably they are opportunistic and eat whatever presents itself.
Defensive Behavior: In the 3 snakes examined – none struck out, none attempted to bite at all. Note – this was all during daylight hours.
Venom Toxicity: Venomous, and deadly. The venom has been shown to have an LD50 subcutaneous measurement of .35 mg/kg for Bungarus flaviceps, while Bungarus candidus (Malayan Krait) was .32 mg/kg, and Bungarus fasciatus (Banded Krait), .62 mg/kg and less than that in another study. This makes it one of the top venomous snakes on the planet. The black mamba is listed at the same .32 mg/kg by respected venom researcher, Dr. Bryan Grieg Fry at his VenomDocs.com site. Only 10 other terrestrial snakes in the world were listed with more potent venom. Little is known of the this venom’s effect on humans after a bite, though it is likely very similar to a bite from Bungarus candidus, I could find no treatment studies due to bites being quite rare by this krait species.
From the abstract of a recent (2/2010) venom study in Malaysia: Bungarus flaviceps (red-headed krait) venom presents an intravenous LD50 of 0.32 μg/g and exhibits enzymatic activities similar to other Bungarus toxins. ELISA cross-reactions between anti-Bungarus flaviceps and a variety of elapid and viperid venoms were observed in the current study. Double-sandwich ELISA was highly specific, since anti-B. flaviceps serum did not cross-react with any tested venom, indicating that this assay can be used for species diagnosis in B. flaviceps bites. In the indirect ELISA, anti-B. flaviceps serum cross-reacted moderately with three different Bungarus venoms (9-18%) and Notechis scutatus venom, but minimally with other elapid and viperid toxins. The results indicated that B. flaviceps venom shares common epitopes with other Bungarus species as well as with N. scutatus. The lethality of the B. flaviceps venom was neutralized effectively by antiserum prepared against B. candidus and B. flaviceps toxins and a commercial bivalent elapid antivenom prepared against B. multicinctus and Naja naja atra venoms, but was not neutralized by commercial antivenoms prepared against Thai cobra, king cobra and banded krait. These data also suggested that the major lethal toxins of B. flaviceps venom are similar to those found in B. multicinctus and B. candidus venoms.
Offspring: Will add to this as I get it.
Notes: I have seen 4 of these kraits, and they are quite incredible to find in the wild considering how rare they are. The Bungarus flaviceps has not been studied very well, and I suspect that most of the information on Wikipedia and other information sources has been generalized from other Thailand kraits like the Blue Krait (Bungarus candidus) and Many Banded Krait (Bungarus multicinctus) because the wording seems too similar.
These snakes have not been studied well in captivity or in the wild. They are not known to bite during daytime, but, be exceptionally careful when handling them.
The belly is red, red-orange on this snake.
Substrate: Best? Leaves and something large to hide under – wood is best, rocks, something solid.
Species: Bungarus flaviceps
Binomial name: Bungarus flaviceps
Classified by Reinhardt, in year, 1843
Video 1 – Red Headed Krait – Bungarus flaviceps caught in southern Thailand:
2nd Part of Red Headed Krait video: