July 18, 2016

Colubrine Sea Krait

Colubrine Sea Krait

Laticauda colubrina, commonly known as the banded sea krait, colubrine sea krait, or yellow-lipped sea krait, is a species of venomous sea snake found in tropical Indo-Pacific oceanic waters. Although it has potent venom, the banded sea krait is not aggressive and only rarely bites humans. The snake has distinctive black stripes and a yellow snout, and feeds on eels and small fish.

The banded sea krait is widespread throught the eastern Indian Ocean and Western Pacific. It can be found from the eastern coast of India, along the coast of the Bay of Bengal in Bangladesh, Myanmar and other parts of Southeast Asia, to the Malay Archipelago and to some parts of southern China, Taiwan, and the Ryukyu Islands of Japan. The species is also common on Fiji and other Pacific islands within its range. Vagrant individuals have been recorded in Australia, New Caledonia, and New Zealand.

Banded sea kraits spend time both on land and in water. When hunting, sea kraits frequently head into deep water far away from land, but return to small islands in order to digest, shed skin, and reproduce. Individual kraits return to their specific home islands, exhibiting philopatry. A study found that when sea kraits on Fijian islands were relocated to different islands 5.3 km away, all recaptured individuals were found on their home islands in an average of 30.7 days.

Banded sea kraits often hunt alone, but have also been recorded in large numbers in the company of hunting parties of giant trevally and goatfish. This cooperative hunting technique is similar to that of the moray eel, with the kraits flushing out prey from narrow crevices and holes, and the trevally and goatfish feeding on fleeing prey.

While probing crevices with their head, sea kraits are unable to observe approaching predators and could be vulnerable. The snakes can deter predators by fooling them that their tail is the head, because the color and movement of the tail is similar to that of the snake's head. For example, the lateral aspect of tail corresponds to the dorsal view of the head.

Kraits primarily feed on varieties of eels, but also eat small fish. Male and female kraits exhibit sexual dimorphism in hunting behavior, as adult females, which are significantly larger than males, prefer to hunt larger conger eels, while adult males hunt smaller moray eels. In addition, females hunt for only one prey item per foraging bout, while males often hunt for multiple items. After hunting, the kraits return to land in order to digest their prey.

Image Credit: Craig D via en.wikipedia.org
Explanation from: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Laticauda_colubrina

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