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Common snakes at Bannerghatta

India (spectacled) Cobra:

Scientific name: Naja naja

Description: The India Cobra has black eyes, wide neck, and a medium sized body. It's body is colored black, dark brown, or rarely yellowish white. The hood marks the classical design, showing a connected pair of rings. Though it not always resembles spectacles. It grows to an average length of 1.2 meters, and a maximum of 2.1 meters.

Characteristics: If it is threatened or attacked, it will lift it's head and spread it's hood, so it will look bigger and more aggressive. The cobra's venom is neurotoxic, causing tissue damage. The cobra would rather retreat if possible. The Spectacled cobra is one of the big four dangerous snakes of India.

Diet: All tiny rodents, including mice, rats, sometimes rabbits, frogs, and some small reptiles. 

Habitat: Cultivated farms, swamps, open fields, vast human dwellings where it can find rodents or dense jungles. 

Young and breeding:

Common Krait:

Scientific name: Bungarus caeruleus

Description: It is a slate colored snake usually with distinct white cross lines. There are normally 40 thin white cross bands. The young and some adults may have white spots in the first third of the backbone in place of the cross lines. It can reach a maximum length of 6 feet. All kraits are nocturnal.

Characteristics: Their fangs are not very long, so the common krait injects its venom into the victim by chewing. The krait bites only under severe provocation and like the cobra, will try to escape if possible. It has a tendency to shelter in sleeping bags, tents and boots and native people often step on kraits while walking in their habitats. The Common Krait is one of the big four dangerous snakes of India.

Diet: Kraits feed on some small mammals, lizards, frogs and toads.

Habitat: It is found in open plains, open country, cultivated areas and scrub jungles at low levels.

Distribution: Around most of India though uncommon in Bengal, Assam, and Orissa where the banded krait is found.

Young and breeding: 6 to 12 eggs are laid at once by the female in holes in the ground or under leaves. The female stays with the clutch until the young emerge.

Russells Viper:

Scientific name: Vipera Russellii

Description: Russells Vipers are rough-scaled snakes. Their body color is mostly brown or yellowish and their pattern is made of dark, round spots edged with white and black. It has a fat body and a triangular shaped head. The underside is white. It grows up to three feet in length.

Diet: Again like the Krait, it eats small mammals, lizards, frogs and toads.

Characteristics: Russells Vipers show up as fat, harmless sand boas which however have shorter and blunter tails. The bright symmetrical spots on the Russells viper's back makes it easy to identify. It's hemotoxic venom damages tissue and blood cells. When it is threatened, the Russells Viper coils tightly, hisses and strikes with so much speed that the victim is unable to escape. The Russells Viper is one of the big four dangerous snakes of India.

Habitat: It is found on farmlands, human settlements, and dense forests.

Distribution: Hills and plains throughout India.

Young and breeding: The Russells Viper breed during the May to July period. There are 20-40 babies in one clutch of eggs. The young, which are exact replicas of the parents have a tendency to eat their on species so the final survivors are limited.