Biodiversity Nepal
For the Future Generation

World’s only Leucistic Kraits found in Nepal

What do you prefer Rescue team to killing/hurting snakes?

By: Ganesh Sah
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On the 25th April 2020 in Dhanusadham Municipality, the local people observed a milky white colour snake in the clay pot with the dragonfly in it. The rescue team from Mithila Wildlife Trust captured, photographed and released it in its own habitat. They identified it as species of genus Bungarus.

However, after a month on 3rd June 2020, another milky white snake was sighted by local people it the same municipality. On identification, it also seems to be a member of Bungarus. So, they believed that the same krait was recaptured as both locations lie in the same municipality.

The shape and arrangement of lateral head scales and number of dorsal scales are the common methods of identification. On inspection, it was clear that both the kraits were different individual of different species.

Lateral view of the head of both snakes. By Mark O’Shea on Herpetology Notes
Dorsal scale counts of two rescued kraits, genus Bungarus. By Mark O’Shea on Herpetology Notes.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Among 6 species of the genus Bungarus, first one was Bungarus walli and the second was Bungarus niger. Also, both were affected by Leucism. Leucism is a genetic condition, in which the complete or near-complete lack of colour in the skin combines with pigmented irises. But Leucism is confused with Albinism. In albinos, body pigmentation is completely lacking, and the eye appears pink due to the colouration of blood vessels shining through the eyeball.

Venomous snakes with albinism or leucism, are potentially more dangerous. Also, both the species were not encountered there before. So, the rescue team and the individuals must study further for the treatment of snakebite. Awareness campaigns also should be conducted on the positive impact on the relationship between snakes and local residents. Encouragement should be made to call for a rescue team instead of killing or removing snakes.

Being the First record of leucism for the Kraits Bungarus walli and B. niger, it is equally important to the entire team and snake conservationists. This shows that there are opportunities for such observations in Nepal and this could contribute to a better understanding of snakes in Nepal.

For the scientific article on the First record of Leucism on B. niger and B. walli published on herpetology notes.

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