Curious and Deadly – The Sea Krait

The Banded sea Krait or Yellow lipped sea krait is an unusual species of snake. Not fully marine but not quite adapted to life on land it lives a curious life torn between the two. Sea Kraits hunt in water and spend most of their daylight hours there, however when night falls they make an unusual dash to land, both to drink freshwater and to mate.

Not much is known about the ecology of these animals and much of these details here are from my own experiences. Sea Kraits tend to come on to land at low tide, struggling against gravity dragging their bodies across the moist sand. I have only ever witnessed Sea Kraits coming on to land from rocks and never from the beach… curious. Another observation is that generally the larger females come on to land first, later followed by the much smaller males. The make use on holes and crevasses on land formed from coral to move about undetected on land and often form mass mating orgys with large numbers on snakes being spotted in single coral holes.

Although docile and placid in water on land this becomes a different story, any accidental encounters with these snakes (say an accidental step =s) and the snakes become jet propelled in which ever direction they face, sometimes up your leg! Also when attempting to capture snakes (for study), as soon as the tail is grabbed they become manic, wriggling all over the place, it’s almost impossible to pin the head instead the best method is to have a container or bag ready. Saying this Sea Kraits rarely approach wide mouthed and I have never seen them strike or attempt to.

Sea Kraits can stay submerged in the ocean for over 2 hours, performing cutaneous respiration through the skin and anus. The Snakes are highly venomous however are found to inject only small quantities of venom and rarely in defence.

These amazing creatures are one of the most widespread in their genus and i am lucky to see plenty of them in the Indo-Pacific every year.


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