Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Creature Feature: Yellow-Lipped Sea Krait.

Heeyyyy, remember that sea snake the mimic octopus was copying?


It's this one, the yellow-lipped sea krait (Laticauda colubrina). It is also called the banded sea krait or Colubrine sea krait. It is common to the waters around Southeast Asia like all sea kraits. Sea kraits typically feed on eels, which, given their similar forms, may seem ironic.

Pull up a list of the most venomous snakes and, if the author REALLY knows his/her stuff, this snake will be on it. There are a number of things that determine these lists (such as aggression, toxicity per injection, and toxicity in general), but this is usually comfortably on any list. Each bite can yield up to ten times the lethal dose.

The bands mean, "stay the fuck away."

Luckily, kraits are very chill snakes otherwise. Despite having venom strong enough to kill ten men, sea kraits frequently allow themselves to be handled, and rarely bite. The bite is painless and often blank. Hell, the snake might even lose its teeth just to make you feel bad for pissing it off. You jerk.

Neat tail is neat.

Besides being highly venomous, sea kraits are also the most completely amphibious of all reptiles. They are at home in the sea as well as on land. In the water, they are adept swimmers, undulating their paddle-shaped tails like fish and only coming to the surface to breathe. Unlike most marine reptiles, sea kraits can get up to 20% of their oxygen through their skin. Like marine iguanas, they have a special gland to help them expel the salt in their watery home.

Sea kraits can also move on land like normal snakes to digest meals, shed their skin, drink fresh water, and lay eggs. Sea kraits are the only sea snakes with scutes - the specialized scales that allow a snake to move on land. They exhibit homing instinct, so if you want them off your island, it will not happen; the snakes have made up their minds.

You won't like them when they're angry.

Tomorrow: Speaking of things that eat eels, humans have some REALLY gross ways of preparing them. Also, black swans aren't just for ballet, anymore.

(Phew! Italian midterm over with!)

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