Weird creature of the month – December

banded sea snake diving thailand kon-tikiThe Banded Sea Krait (Laticauda colubrina)

The Sea Kraits are an amphibious animal that are both able to live in the ocean and on land. You can find them in the warm and tropical coastal areas in the Indian and Western Pacific oceans.  An adult male can be up to 75cm long, while the females can almost reach twice that size as adults with their 128cm in length.

Like their land living relatives they have large belly scales to help them move around on land, for propulsion and movement underwater they use their flat and paddle shaped tail.

The females are also able to dive in deeper water than the males because of the larger bodies they have are able to withstand the increasing pressure of greater depths. Their favorite food is eels and from time to time they eat smaller fish they can trap in crevices.

 The banded sea krait’s lethal venom is ten times more toxic than that of a rattlesnake and contains powerful Neurotoxins that affect the muscles of its prey. After injection the neurotoxins will quickly and severely impair the swimming and breathing capabilities of an eel and make it an easy grab for the Banded sea krait.

Human fatalities are few, most likely because they are not very aggressive species.  Each snake can produce up to 10-15mg of venom and only a fraction of that is a lethal dose.

About every 10 days the Banded Sea Krait leaves ocean to spend some time on the beach to digest its food, drink fresh water, shed their skin and this is also were they mate and lay eggs. Known predators that hunt the Banded Sea Krait are sea Eagles and sharks, especially Tiger sharks.

banded sea krait diving thailand kon-tikiWhen they are going into dive mode they use their nasal valves and close fitting scales around the mouth to keep the sea water out and they are able to stay down for 15 minutes up to 2 hours. A salt gland in their mouth allows them expel excess salt absorb from the salt water.

And the coolest thing of all is that except from the lungs they can also use their skin to “breathe” and exchange gases, it’s estimated that they can absorb about 20% of their total need for oxygen and eliminate almost all of the carbon dioxide the snake produces  just through their skin.

Sources
Animal Diversity Web – http://animaldiversity.ummz.umich.edu/accounts/Laticauda_colubrina/       Aquarium of the Pacific – http://www.aquariumofpacific.org/onlinelearningcenter/species/banded_sea_krait

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