The blue krait is a venomous snake found in Southeast Asia. Some rank it as the most venomous snake in all of Asia, and it is definitely one of the deadliest snakes found in the world. It is one of 12 species of kraits found worldwide and belongs to the same family as cobras.
Its scientific name is Bungarus candidus and is also known by another common name, the Malayan krait. Another species, the common krait, is also sometimes called the blue krait, but these are two different, distinct snakes.
Danger to Humans:
The blue krait is considered very dangerous to humans. If left untreated, death will likely result in about a day’s time. Even with treatment using anti-venom, there is still a 50% likelihood of death. Soldiers in the Vietnam War called these snakes “5 step snakes” because once bitten you only had 5 steps to live before death.
Fortunately, blue kraits are not considered aggressive. In fact, they are quite shy and will try to cover their heads with their tails when approached! It is unlikely you will be bitten unless you try to pick this snake up.
Snake handlers, trained professionals, are even known to pick up the snake without any type of protective gear ~ at least during the daytime hours! This is not a very smart practice since a blue krait’s venom is 10 times more potent, or stronger, than a cobra’s venom.
The blue krait is found in a variety of habitats. It can live in rocky areas, forests, and even in towns. It does prefer flatter environments.
It is a nocturnal species, most active at night, and usually finds a safe hiding spot during the day. It does not like the sunshine!
Blue kraits are about 4-6 feet in length and almost always have a distinctly banded pattern on their body. As its name suggests, the blue krait does not have blue markings on its body.
Dark brown or blackish bands alternate with light yellowish-white bands to form the body of the snake. Its head is generally dark, as is its first band.
It has 27-34 total bands on its body. Some individual snakes are not banded at all and can be completely black. Its ventral, or stomach, the area will always be white.
The blue krait’s fangs are not very large. If someone starts showing symptoms of being bitten, such as facial paralysis or drowsiness, and is taken to receive medical help, then medical professionals are trained to go ahead and treat for a possible blue krait bite even without the presence of fang marks.
Fang marks are not necessarily evident after a bite, especially if a young blue krait snake is involved. Blue kraits can also bite more than once!
The blue krait is an active hunter at night for food. Lizards, frogs, mice, and even other snakes find their way onto a blue krait’s dinner plate. In fact, the blue krait most often preys on other snake species!
- Special Adaptations: The blue krait is considered a timid snake. Its venom, however, is not. Its venom will attack a human’s nervous system shutting down key respiratory, or breathing, organs.
- Reproduction: Only a few facts are known about how blue kraits reproduce. They are an oviparous, or egg-laying, species. Instead of building their own nests, they usually take over a rat’s burrow in the ground to lay their eggs. They lay 4-10 eggs at a time and after birth, the neonates, or newborns, are about a foot long.
- Conservation Status: The blue krait faces danger from humans and is collected for its skin, medicinal purposes, and even as food. Despite this, they are listed as a stable population and a species of Least Concern.
Striking Statements of Fact:
- Since the blue krait is often active at night, it sometimes bites people when they are asleep. This type of snake is especially dangerous to people in rural Asia, who often sleep on the floor. The bite of a blue krait is often painless, and the victim continues sleeping. This can be deadly because bite victims need to seek immediate medical attention.
- Kraits are famous for appearing in Rudyard Kipling’s The Jungle Book.