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Laticauda

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Laticauda

Laticauda
Laticauda colubrina
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Subphylum: Vertebrata
Class: Reptilia
Order: Squamata
Suborder: Serpentes
Family: Elapidae
Subfamily: Hydrophiinae
Genus: Laticauda
Laurenti, 1768
Species

eight, see text

Laticauda is a genus of snakes from the subfamily Hydrophiinae. Laticauda species are the least adapted to sea life of all the members of Hydrophiinae; they retain the wide ventral scales typical of terrestrial snakes and have poorly developed tail fins. They are adapted to living on land and in shallow seas. These animals are also commonly known as sea kraits.

Size

Members of the genus Laticauda can grow to 1.5 metres (4.9 ft) long.[1]

Location

Laticauda species are found throughout the south and southeast Asian islands spreading from India in the west, north as far as Japan, and southeast to Fiji. They are mostly found in coastal waters.[2]

Diet

Laticauda species feed in the ocean, mostly eating moray and conger eels, and some squid, crabs, and fish. They have never been observed feeding on land.

Behavior

Laticauda species are often active at night, which is when they prefer to hunt. Though they possess highly toxic venom, Laticauda snakes are usually shy and reclusive, and in New Caledonia, where they are called tricot rayé ("stripey sweater"), children play with them. Bites are extremely rare, but must be treated immediately.[3] Black-banded sea kraits, numbering in the hundreds, form hunting alliances with yellow goatfish and bluefin trevally, flushing potential prey from narrow crannies in a reef the same way some moray eels do.[4][5] Sea kraits are capable to of diving up to 80 meters in a single hunting trip.[6]

Breeding

Laticauda females are oviparous, and they return to land to mate and lay eggs. Several males will form a mating ball around the female, twitching their bodies in what is termed "caudocephalic waves". Though these animals can occur in high densities in suitable locations, nests of eggs are very rarely encountered, suggesting specific nesting conditions need to be met.

Species and taxonomy

Eight species are currently recognised,[7][8]

The species L. schistorhynchus and L. semifasciata have been placed in the genus Pseudolaticauda by some authors.[9]

Nota bene: A binomial authority in parentheses indicates that the species was originally described in a genus other than Laticauda.

Parasites

Sea snakes have thick parasites with occasionally heavy infections .[10]

References

  1. ^ Activity Patterns of Yellow-Lipped Sea Kraits (Laticauda colubrina) on a Fijian Island.
  2. ^
  3. ^ Notes du Centre d'études biologiques de Chizé (UPR1934 CNRS), CNRS DR15 - La Lettre de la Délégation n°202.
  4. ^ http://www.arkive.org/black-banded-sea-krait/laticauda-semifasciata/image-G78940.html
  5. ^ http://www.bbcearth.com/programmes/planet-earth-36/
  6. ^
  7. ^ Heatwole H, Busack S, Cogger H. (2005). Geographic variation in sea kraits of the Laticauda colubrina complex (Serpentes: Elapidae: Hydrophiinae: Laticaudini). Herpetological Monographs 19: 1-136.
  8. ^ Cogger HG, Heatwole HF. (2006). Laticauda frontalis (de Vis, 1905) and Laticauda saintgironsi n.sp. from Vanuato and New Caledonia (Serpentes: Elapidae: Laticaudinae) – a new lineage of sea kraits? Records of the Australian Museum 58: 245-256.
  9. ^ Kharin VE, Czeblukov VP. (2006). A new revision of the sea kraits of family Laticaudidae Cope, 1879 (Serpentes: Colubroidea). Russian Journal of Herpetology 13: 227-241.
  10. ^ Clark M, Oakley S. (2011). http://tracc-borneo.org/2011/03/sea-snake-parasites-1/ referenced May 2011.

Further reading

  • Laurenti JN. 1768. Specimen medicum, exhibens synopsin reptilium emendatam cum experimentis circa venena et antidota reptilium austriacorum. Vienna: "Joan. Thom. Nob. de Trattnern". 214 pp. + Plates I-V. (Laticauda, new genus, p. 109). (in Latin).
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