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The Common Krait (Bungarus caeruleus)

Synonyms and names in other languages

Indian krait, blue krait 

Classification

Order: squamata

Family: elapinae

Genus: bungarus

Species: Bungarus caeruleus.

Habitat

The common krait is native to Australia, southern Asia and Malay archipelago.

It is normally found in dry places with a lot of hiding places (scrubs, holes). This snake often lives near people, it can get into the buildings and this is the reason for frequently occurring cases of kraits biting people.

Appearance

The common krait is a medium size snake, it ranges from 90 cm to 1.7 m.

It is a smooth snake with memorable colouring. It has white and black cross bands from the neck to the tip of the tail. It has a narrow head and a hardly evident neck.  The scales are smooth. The body is brown or black on the back and the belly is white.  The keel is not distinct; the tip of the tail is sharpened. 

Personality

The common krait is nocturnal species. At daytime it usually hides and doesn’t hunt.

It is an aggressive snake that attacks vigorously.

Its venomous glands that are located by the roots of fangs contain 5 doses of lethal venom.  

Housing and Care

The common krait needs a special tank due to the hazards of keeping it. The enclosure should have a hiding place for the snake that can be safely closed from outside: it will guarantee the safety of the person who will be cleaning the enclosure. It is best to have a tank with two separate sections. The common krait needs a horizontal tank 80x50x60 cm. For substrate you can use a thick layer of coconut husks. The snake will also need some logs for climbing and a bowl with fresh clean water (has to be changed daily).

The ambient temperature in the enclosure should be in the range of 22 – 24°C at night and 25 – 27°C at daytime. It is best to use the heat pad or the heat cord.

These snakes need a high level of humidity, about 70%, so you will have to mist daily.

The Indian krait needs constant light for safety reasons, since the snakes can see in the dark better than people do.

Food

In the wild the common krait eats mainly small snakes, amphibians (mostly frogs) and different kinds of lizards.

In captivity the common krait mainly eats small rodents: mice and rats. You should feed the snake twice a week and add to the food mineral supplements and vitamins. 

Features

It is the second most venomous snake in the world. People die after the bite even if the antidote is injected.

It is a very aggressive snake that attacks without warning.  

It is strongly advised against home keeping. 

Health

If the snake refuses to eat, it can be caused by stress, unsuitable food, or it can happen that the snake just is not hungry.  You should not try and force the food into the snake: they can live without food for a long time without any damage for their health. You should only start worrying if your snake doesn’t eat for several months. Then you need to analyze its living conditions and the menu prior to this situation. You should never try to force-feed the Indian krait, it is very dangerous.

The snake can vomit because of stress, illness or if the prey was too big. Also it can vomit if it was fed during shedding or if the temperature in its enclosure is not suitable. After vomiting you mustn’t feed the snake for 7-10 days, and then you can offer it food taking into account the previous mistakes.

Shedding is not a disease, it is a necessary step in the snake’s growth. Its eyes get milky, their color grows paler and the skin starts coming off. During this time you should be extra careful about the humidity and clean water in the enclosure.

Mites are small parasites that live on the snake’s skin. They stick on the snake’s body between the scales and suck its blood. This can make the snake lethargic and it can turn down the food.  To get rid of mites you need to use the weak solution of the same medicine which is used against ticks on cats and dogs. You will also have to disinfect the whole enclosure.

Respiratory diseases are usually caused by potentially pathogenic bacteria if the immune system of the snake doesn’t function properly either due to a stress or to unsuitable living conditions. The symptoms include gasping, open mouth, runny nose. These diseases are treated by the injections of antibiotic called Baytril. 

Breeding

The Indian krait is an egg-laying species that hardly ever breeds in captivity. When the female protects its eggs, it becomes very aggressive and can attack even at daytime.

Average life span is about 12 - 15 years.

 

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