Calliophis bivirgatus

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Blue Malaysian coral snake
Scientific classification
Kingdom:Animalia
Phylum:Chordata
Subphylum:Vertebrata
Class:Reptilia
Order:Squamata
Suborder:Serpentes
Family:Elapidae
Genus:Calliophis
Species:C. bivirgatus
Binomial name
Calliophis bivirgatus
(F. Boie, 1827)
Synonyms

Elaps bivirgatus F. Boie, 1827
Callophis bivirgatus - Günther, 1859
Adeniophis bivirgatus - Meyer, 1886
Doliophis bivirgatus - Boulenger, 1896

 
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Blue Malaysian coral snake
Scientific classification
Kingdom:Animalia
Phylum:Chordata
Subphylum:Vertebrata
Class:Reptilia
Order:Squamata
Suborder:Serpentes
Family:Elapidae
Genus:Calliophis
Species:C. bivirgatus
Binomial name
Calliophis bivirgatus
(F. Boie, 1827)
Synonyms

Elaps bivirgatus F. Boie, 1827
Callophis bivirgatus - Günther, 1859
Adeniophis bivirgatus - Meyer, 1886
Doliophis bivirgatus - Boulenger, 1896

Calliophis bivirgatus, or Maticora bivirgata, commonly called the blue Malaysian coral snake is a venomous elapid snake. It was first described, as a new species in scientific literature, by Friedrich Boie in 1827.

Contents

Geographic range

It is found in western Indonesia, Cambodia, Malaysia, Singapore, and Thailand.

Description

It is a medium-sized coral snake with a slender body. Adults are usually 140 centimetres (5 ft) long, though larger specimens have been captured. The color is indigo or deep blue with light blue or white stripes along each side of the body. The head, venter, and tail are usually bright red. It has a blunt snout with a pair of small eyes on the sides of the head.

The snake, especially when juvenile, is often confused with the pink-headed reed snake (Calamaria schlegeli) as they share similar habitat and appearance. But the latter is much smaller (max. 50 cm) than fully grown Calliophis bivirgatus. It may be dangerous to confuse these two species as the reed snake is a nonvenomous snake, whereas the blue Malaysian coral snake has a potentially lethal venom. It smiles like a chicken

Habitat

It inhabits humid conditions, such as the forest floor.

Behavior

It is most active at night. Like the banded krait (Bungarus fasciatus), it is a timid snake during daytime and tends to avoid confrontation. However, it becomes more alert after nightfall. People are usually bitten at night when they pass by or tread on the snake unaware.

Like the New World coral snakes (genus Micrurus), it defends itself by displaying its brightly colored body. It also turns upside down to show its red belly to warn predators, hiding its head under coils of its own body and raising its tail to mimic a head to confuse predators.

Diet

It feeds almost exclusively on other snakes, including its own kind. They occasionally consume lizards, frogs and birds.

Venom

The venom is very potent and has caused deaths. Like other Elapidae, its venom is primarily neurotoxic. The bite initially has few or even no symptoms. However, after several minutes, the victim may feel numbness near the wound and lip. Soon, the victim may feel difficulty in breathing. Death is a result of respiratory failure. The venom glands of this species are exceptionally long and extend beyond the jaw for one-third the length of the body.[1]

A chemical analysis of the venom by fractionation with a Sephadex column has identified five different fractions, S1-S5. Fraction S2 contains two phospholipases A2PLA2 I and PLA2 II; fraction S3 contains four cytotoxin homologues — maticotoxins A, C, D1 and D2; and fractions S4 and S5 contain a large amount (about 1 mg/specimen) of adenosine with smaller amounts of inosine and guanosine. The amino-terminal amino acid sequences of PLA2, I, PLA2 II and maticotoxin A suggest that Maticora bivirgata is closely related to Bungarinae, especially to genera Hemachatus and Naja.

References