Common Krait (Bungarus caeruleus)

With the incessant spell of rains that Delhi is enjoying, it is not surprising that the Wildlife S.O.S. rescue helpline has not stopped buzzing, as the reptile community is coming over ground in search of food and shelter. One such call led to the rescue of a Common Krait, one of the deadly four reptiles found in Delhi, in the up market Saket area of South Delhi.

Situated in the green covers of Delhi, Saket residences are always frequented by snakes looking for food or coverage. A snake sitting at the doorstep of a house was not an unheard of incident in Saket but within minutes the team reached the location. And at the first glance itself rescue team member Harshad identified the unmistakable black body with white rings”  a  Common Krait. Kraits are known to be very patient, when choosing locations to rest and this guy was sitting at the doorstep for a long time. The callers had no idea that they had one of the most venomous snakes right at their door. The team carefully rescued the snake and safely tucked it inside a reptile rescue box. The callers were relieved and grateful, but the rescue team knew and expected that there were more such calls to come.

And their expectations came true within just 5 hours. An early morning call from East of Kailash, a heavily populated and very urban locality, sent the rescue team on the roll again. This time a snake was seen entering the False Ceiling Decoration adjoining the bed. The team first poured some water initially to get the snake out, but it proved futile. Rescue team member Shryaddhesh said “I suddenly saw a pair of eyes and the black face peeking out of a crevice in the wall mount. Although I could not be sure it was a Krait as I could not see much of the body my instinct told me it was a Krait, so we decided not to waste time and take risks. We broke the mount and indeed it was a common krait! And a very angry one at that.

Common Krait (Bungarus caeruleus) The rescue team’s work did not get over at that. They had another SOS from the Jawaharlal Nehru University, where Dr. Suryaprakash and Tejas Cherian, both professors at JNU and avid snake handlers had rescued yet another krait, and according to them it was an uncommonly big one at a length of 3ft. to be located in Delhi. Being nocturnal, these snakes get very aggressive if handled in the day. And a snake as big as 3 ft. could be a very fatal biter. And as if 3 Kraits under the rescue teams care was not enough, another 2 ft. Krait was rescued the same evening from Paschal Vihar taking the count to four within 24 hours.

Common Krait, a very venomous species of snake usually inhabits fringes of cities and due to its exclusive nocturnal habit, seldom crosses path with humans. Kraits are also known for their notorious snake eating behavior and thus making them quite feared not only in the layman but also the herpetology fraternity. Very rarely does the rescue helpline encounter them in the daily calls, but this weekend things were quite different.

The total proportion of venomous snakes is very less compared to as non-venomous and this fact holds true in Delhi as well. Amongst the 22 species of reptiles found in Delhi, only 2-3 snakes are venomous and found commonly dwelling around human habitations. The three venomous snakes found in Delhi quite frequently include Spectacled Cobra (Naja naja), Common Krait (Bungarus caeruleus) and Saw-Scaled Viper (Echis carinatus). These three snakes also find their place in the Snakes of Human Medical Significance as they have recorded human causalities.