Sunday, December 8, 2013

Common Krait : The Mysterious killer in Sri Lanka (තෙල් කරවලා)

In rural dry zone in Sri Lanka, sometimes people die in their sleep or die due to sudden respiratory failure. There is one snake behind all these unknown deaths, it's the most venomous terrestrial snake in the island "The Common Krait" also known as "Magamaruwa"(මගමරුවා) which means DEATH ON THE WAY

Terrestrial kraits belonging to the genus Bungarus of sub family Elapinae and family Elapidae. There are 18 krait species including five sub species are currently recognized by herpetologists and in the snake island of Sri Lanka we encounter two species which is the most venomous among them is the common krait. The scientific name of the common krait is Bungarus Caeruleus. In sinhalese it's known as "තෙල් කරවලා " (Thel Karawala), "මගමරුවා " (magamaruwa), and "හබරලා" (Habarala)


Common Kraits are distributed through out the dry zone and some parts of intermediate zone up to 1600m elevation. It is a nocturnal snake.(All Krait species are nocturnal) rare to be seen in day time as it hides under logs, piles or underground rodent holes or any dark cold place. Slow moving and sluggish during day time. if felt threatened it coils up and hide it's head inside the coil and wiggle it's tail as a distraction. but totally different story at night. they are very active and could be aggressive if provoked.

Kraits are easy to identified thanks to the large hexagonal vertebral scales and coloration. same conditions applies to the common krait. Dorsal coloration of the common krait ranges from black to bluish black, purple tint black and sometimes brownish black with 20-25 white band pairs on dorsal body. These white bands are usually paired. juvenile common kraits have bright milky white bands all over their body. Head is indistinct from the body and depressed, looks cylindrical from head to tail. It has a red color tongue and small black round pupiled eyes.