Blue-Lipped Sea Krait: Habitat, Description and Facts

Laticauda laticaudata, commonly known as the “Blue-lipped Sea Krait,” is a terrifying sea creature that is known to inhabit coastal waters from the Western Pacific Oceans to India. These sea snakes are notorious for their bites. They are considered to be some of the worst snakes in the wild world.

Blue-lipped sea kraits are classed as reptiles as they lack backbones, but they are more closely related to snakes than amphibians. Although snakes themselves are not venomous, laticaudus are vipers. Even so, these fierce-looking sea snakes have adapted to their aquatic life.

Are you looking for facts about blue-lipped sea snakes that are venomous?  Do you want to know more about the diet of these terrifying sea snakes? Do you have any queries about their bite? Or are you interested to know which places these sea beasts inhabit? Then, read on. Your search ends here!

Blue-lipped Sea krait: Facts and Figures

Kingdom: Animalia

Phylum: Chordata

Class: Reptilia

Order: Squamata

Suborder: Serpentes

Family: Elapidae

Genus: Laticauda

Species: L. laticaudata

Binomial name: Laticauda laticaudata (Linnaeus, 1758)

Synonyms

  • Coluber laticaudatus Linnaeus, 1758
  • Laticauda scutata Laurenti, 1768
  • Platurus laticaudatus Girard, 1858

Length:

  1. Males are 910 mm (36 in)
  2. Females are 1,070 mm (42 in)

Weight:

  1. The weight of an adult male is 1.3 pounds
  2. The weight of an adult female is 4 pounds

Approximate Age: 15 to 20 years

Conservation Status: Least Concern (IUCN 3.1)

Discussion About the Habits and Lifestyle of Blue-Lipped Sea Krait

Every sea-life lover is always interested to know about the specific habits and living standards of blue-lipped sea snakes. These serpent-like sea creatures of the globe exhibit remarkable resilience to the most dangerous venoms. These blue-lipped sea kraits can survive the most toxic substances and environments. Let’s discuss it in gory details below:

Taxonomy

The binomial name Coluber laticaudatus was given to the blue-lipped sea krait, one of the numerous species that Carl Linnaeus first described in his seminal 1758 10th edition of “Systema Naturae”. It has two subspecies named as:

  • Laticauda laticaudata laticaudata
  • Laticauda laticaudata affinis

The specific name, laticauda, indicates that this sea snake is named after the lati cauda-like lateral flaps of the body of the fish, which are common in these sea snakes.

Physical Description

The blue lips of this sea snake are common to the best of one’s imagination. It’s called a blue-lipped sea krait due to its 19 blue bands all over the body. Its upper lip is brown. These specifications differentiate it from other sea kraits of Laticauda species.

Blue-Lipped Sea Krait

Moreover, its nostrils are lateral. The nasal scales of blue-lipped sea krait are finely separated by internasals. However, its rostral scales are not divided. The ventrals range from 225 to 243. It is the largest species of the genus, which is known as the Blue-lipped Sea-Krait.

The scales run horizontally across the body and are evenly distributed on the whole body. If you are lucky enough to spot this sea snake in its natural habitat, you will probably never forget the magnificent-looking reptile.

Distribution and Habitat

The blue-lipped sea snake is endemic to Western Pacific Oceans and India. They can be found in tropical and subtropical waters, even in cooler and more temperate regions. These sea snakes live in coral reefs, seagrass beds, and coastal lagoons and estuaries. [1]

Blue-lipped sea kraits are widely found in Asian areas. The favorite islands of this snake are Andaman Island and Nicobar Island. Its biographical realms include Palearctic, Australasian, Oceanian, and Indomalayan. The Indian and Western Pacific Oceans are home to this species.

It can be found in the Bay of Bengal (Bangladesh, East India, the Andaman and Nicobar Islands, Sri Lanka, Myanmar, Thailand), along the Malay Peninsula’s coasts to Indonesia, Timor-Leste, New Guinea, the Philippines, off the coasts of Fujian and Taiwan, Japan, Polynesia, Melanesia, Solomon Islands, New Caledonia, Palau, Vanuatu, F (Queensland).

In 2011, a single specimen was discovered in Devonport, New Zealand, but it passed away soon after being brought to Kelly Tarlton’s Sea Life Aquarium.”

You can spot a blue-lipped sea krait in its natural habitat by looking out from the porch lights at night. These sea snakes often move across the waters at night, enjoying the cool waters.

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These sea snakes hide beneath the coral reefs during the day and come out at night. The vast coral reefs are surrounded by numerous islands in most of the tropical areas where sea snakes live.

Diet and Nutrition Habits

Blue-lipped Sea kraits mainly feed on eels and small fishes. They readily digest their food and help in the rapid absorption of nutrients. They are not known to have a preferred prey species.

These reptiles live in dense coral reefs, swim with agility and strength, and are difficult to spot. They can dive deep under the water, coming back with huge prey fishes.

The blue-lipped sea snakes hunt and feed at night and spend their days resting inside caves and burrows to digest the food. However, most of the time, they might look asleep.

Reproduction and Life Cycle

Blue-lipped Sea kraits are oviparous. They mate, lay eggs, and reproduce on land rather than in the water. The females lay eggs in caves and rock crevices.

The female blue-lipped sea kraits lay one to seven (1-7) eggs in the sheltered crevices. Their mating habits and reproductive system is similar to yellow-lipped sea kraits.

The organization of Animal Diversity has defined its reproductive system in the following words: (Source)

“The courtship and reproduction processes of blue-lipped sea kraits have been divided into three primary stages.

  • The tactile phase is the initial stage. Males may swim along the shore to locate the place where a female left the water and went to land. The sea kraits’ reliance on pheromonal cues during this stage shows how they track down and follow the trail of a female.
  • Aligning the body and mounting are included in the second phase. A male will cover a female during this stage and frequently twitch spasmodically in an effort to arouse the female.
  • The actual copulation of the sea kraits is the subject of the third phase. To reproduce, sea kraits must enter the male’s hemipenis into the female’s cloaca.”

Population Status

These species of sea snakes are highly vulnerable to capture due to their land-living habits. Blue-lipped Sea kraits are not listed as endangered in any of the databases of conservation statuses.

Blue-Lipped Sea Krait

According to the most recent IUCN Red List criteria, blue-lipped sea kraits are classified as “Least Concern“. It means they are not an endangered species of sea snakes. (Source)

Its population status is called “Not Threatened” in the Reptiles organization of New Zealand. However, the following factors affect its population negatively: (source)

  • Commercial harvesting
  • Human-induced reduction of habitat in a mangrove swamp
  • Industrial pollution of coral reefs and other coastal areas
  • Overfishing

Some researchers have given that fresh water and rainfall are the influential factors that positively effects the population of these sea snakes. They balance their nutrition needs and dehydration problems by drinking fresh water in salty areas.

Blue-lipped Sea kraits and humans (negatives)

According to the special notes given on the website of the Reptiles organization in New Zealand:

“Even though blue-lipped sea kraits are incredibly toxic, they are not aggressive towards humans and other animals, making envenomation relatively uncommon. Bites only happen when an animal is unintentionally grabbed and defends itself, as when an animal is being removed from a fishing net.

Due to the creatures’ propensity to squeeze into tight openings like water intakes and exhaust pipes, occasionally various sea krait species likely travel to New Zealand on private boats.” (Source)

Blue-lipped Sea kraits have negative impacts, like it injures humans due to venomous bites. Although these sea snakes do not bite the opponent until provoked or threatened. However, there are many cases when these species have bitten humans in confusion during mating season.

Blue-lipped Sea kraits: Uses, Treatments and Threats

Although the blue-lipped sea kraits’ particular economic significance is not mentioned, it has been noticed that these snakes have many uses. For instance, since 1930, the Philippines has sold leather goods made from the skin of blue-lipped sea kraits.

Blue-Lipped Sea Krait

When the Japanese started commercially importing sea kraits from the Philippines and selling them to Europe under the name “Japanese sea snake leather,” the demand for sea kraits soared. Blue-lipped Sea kraits’ eggs and meat are eaten as food in the Ryukyu Islands of Japan and some other Asian nations.

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Additionally, the venom of these snakes may have biomedical uses in both study and treatment. They contribute to some of the islands’ and nations’ ecotourism because they are an essential component of numerous coral reef ecosystems.

Predators of blue-lipped sea kraits

Blue-lipped Sea kraits have the following known predators:

  • Crabs Portunus
  • Sea Eagles (Haliastur Indus)
  • Sea Eagles (Haliaetus luecogaster)
  • Sharks
  • Tiger Sharks (Galeocerda cuvieri)

The blue-lipped sea krait is extremely dangerous due to its venom. It makes use of this trait in a rather inventive anti-predator adaption that rotates the krait’s tail to make it look like a second head. This technique is known as mimicking to prevent predators.

Is the blue-lipped sea krait venomous?

Yeah, blue-lipped sea krait is venomous. This venom is highly toxic. For instance, if this snake bites a person or any other human-sized creature, he can eventually die.

However, this sea snake is timid and extremely shy to attack someone without any reason. From a certain point of view, this snake is likely closely related to one of the world’s most deadly snakes.

Its venom is 10 times more potent than that of the rattlesnake, according to scientific research. This level of toxicity makes the blue-lipped sea krait one of the most dangerous snakes on earth. (Source)

What Are the Signs And Symptoms of Blue-Lipped Sea Krait Bite?

At first, the victim may experience a sudden inflammation in the bite area. This inflammation often causes a bright red rash or blisters. A victim may also experience pain at the spot where a blue-lipped sea kraits bite.

Symptoms of an allergic reaction may also appear. Usually, an allergic reaction occurs a few minutes after the bite and continues for 30 minutes or so. A severe reaction will lead to severe pain and the victim may lose consciousness.

Other negative effects of snake venom include mental deficiency, chills, and fever. It is possible that this sea snake’s venom may also kill a human in a few hours. However, the extent of its toxicity depends on the snake species involved, the weight of the individual, age, sex, the quantity of venom, and many other factors.

The most common signs of a blue-lipped sea krait vary but include the following:

  • Bite or fang marks at the bite site
  • Nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea
  • Abdominal pain
  • Headaches
  • Body aches and muscle aches
  • Poor reflexes
  • Pain, fatigue, and weak muscles
  • Enlarged lymph nodes
  • Anxiety, drowsiness, and confusion
  • Blurred vision
  • Breathing difficulties; labored breathing
  • Feeling faint or dizzy
  • Convulsions
  • Blue-colored skin due to poisoning
  • Weakness and malaise
  • Unconsciousness
  • Muscle damage; progressive muscle weakness
  • Difficulty speaking and swallowing
  • Individuals may be unable to stand, sit, or even raise their arms and legs
  • Neurological symptoms, including moderate to severe paralysis
  • Kidney injury causing acute kidney failure is reported

Any of these symptoms necessitate the care of a trained medical specialist.

What Is the Treatment Of Blue-Lipped Sea Krait’s Bite?

Blue-Lipped Sea Krait

Depending on the results of a medical evaluation performed by a qualified healthcare practitioner, the following actions may be taken in the treatment of a blue-lipped sea krait bite.

  • Administration of slow intravenous injection or infusion of sea snake antivenom to neutralize the venom
  • Intravenous fluids are given to the patient to maintain hydration
  • For at least 12 hours, periodic blood and urine tests are performed
  • Typically, intubation and breathing support are required
  • If necessary, peritoneal dialysis for acute kidney failure

In all situations where anti-snake venom must be administered, consulting a toxicologist is advised.

How To Prevent Blue-Lipped Sea Krait Bite?

The bite of a blue-lipped sea krait can be avoided with the following precautions:

  • Avoid sea snakes in endemic zones.
  • Educate fishing communities to handle and untangle blue-lipped sea snakes that are caught mistakenly in their nets.
  • Use adequate protective clothing while working in the fishing or agriculture industry.
  • Pay attention to the warnings of health professionals and lifeguards at the sea sides.
  • Wear protective clothing while swimming in the water
  • Be careful and watchful while cleaning your boats and trawlers
  • Always try to wear protective footwear when you’re walking out
  • Try to have a marine first aid kit to protect someone by giving first aid
  • If you see a sea snake (on land), take a step back and maintain a safe distance from it.
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Interesting Facts You Never Knew About Blue-Lipped Sea Kraits

Let’s deep dive into the sea of insights about the interesting facts about this marine reptile:

  • The blue-lipped sea snake is known to be warmed up in wedge-tailed shearwater burrows.
  • The sea snake tick (Amblyomma nitidum), among other parasites and illnesses that affect reptiles, is present in blue-lipped sea krait.
  • Blue-lipped sea kraits are nocturnal animals and the light of the moon is the most common source of illumination for them.
  • Blue-lipped sea snakes are always attracted to lights. This is the common reason behind encounters between humans and these sea kraits.
  • Each blue-lipped sea krait can produce up to 10 – 15mg of venomous dose. Only a small fraction of this amount produced will result in a lethal dose that can cause sudden death. It shows how toxic this specie is.
  • A lesser-known fact about blue-lipped sea kraits is that, like sea turtles, these sea kraits exhibit “philopatry,” or the behavior of repeatedly returning to the same beach to eat, rest, and lay eggs.
  • The Murex Manado House Reef is one of the top dive sites in North Sulawesi for seeing blue-lipped sea kraits. In contrast to larger females who dive deeper, males prefer to hunt in depths of less than 10 meters, making this shallow dive site an excellent place to spot them. Sea krait sightings are also very common at Manado Tua dive locations, and larger females are especially common there.

Hope you find these facts more than interesting and captivating. These will keep you delighted to learn more about these sea snake species and their habitation patterns.

Frequently Asked Questions

Do blue-lipped sea kraits live in tropical and subtropical water?

They can be found in tropical and subtropical waters, even in cooler and more temperate regions. These sea snakes live in coral reefs, seagrass beds, and coastal lagoons and estuaries.

How venomous is the blue-lipped sea krait?

The venom of blue-lipped sea snakes is a very toxic substance that can cause severe and fatal envenomation. It is known to be lethal. It’s a fast-acting venom that causes paralysis and respiratory failure within 1-2 hours of the bite.  The venom of a blue-lipped sea snake can be characterized by strong bleeding, hypotension, and other alarming signs.

What’s the difference between a sea snake and a sea krait?

There is no clear distinction between a sea snake and a sea krait. Both are classified as members of the Squamata, a diverse group of reptiles that includes crocodiles, snakes, lizards, and turtles. All sea snakes and sea kraits are similar in appearance and habits.

The only distinguishing feature is the paddle-like tails. Sea kraits have this type of tail to swim fastly in water and they return to land for rest and digestion. While true sea snakes spend all their time in the water and do not return to land to do other stuff.

What are the other names of blue-lipped sea krait?

Other common names of a blue-lipped sea krait (Laticauda Laticaudata) are blue-banded sea krait and common sea krait.

Are blue-lipped sea kraits friendly?

No, generally, blue-lipped sea kraits are not friendly. They are very docile and can attack the encountered person. Their reaction can be risky if they are provoked. They are the worst snakes to mess around with. In this aspect, blue-lipped sea kraits are considered to be snakes that can easily attack and kill.

So while sea kraits are not friendly to people, they are still safe animals. They will not bite you until they feel unsafe. If you encounter one of them, avoid the bite and observe them first.

Conclusion

Our conclusion from the above information is that these blue-lipped sea snakes are really dangerous snake species. They are highly toxic, can strike and inject venom that can be fatal, and are easily provoked. We must be very careful with them and keep ourselves away from their routes and areas.

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