IUCN threat status:

Least Concern (LC)

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The dangerously venomous Red-headed Krait (Bungarus flaviceps) is a strikingly patterned elapid snake occurring from southern Vietnam to the Malay Peninsula and on the islands of Sumatra, Nias, Bangka, Belitung, and Borneo. Two subspecies are currently recognized. Bungarus flaviceps baluensis was long considered to be endemic to Mount Kinabalu in northern Borneo but is now known to be more widely distributed on that island and may deserve recognition as a separate species. The nominate subspecies, Bungarus flaviceps flaviceps, occurs throughout the remainder of the range. The known vertical distribution of B. f baluensis extends from 1550 m to as low as 550 m;  that of B. f flaviceps extends from sea level (near the coast of Perak, Malaysia) to around 600 m (in the Nakhon Si Thammarat Mountains, Thailand). The collection of a B.f. flaviceps specimen in Malaysia at around 1200 m elevation in 1997 suggests that the vertical distribution of some populations of B. f flaviceps may overlap that of B. f. baluensis (0-1200 m vs. 550- 1550 m, respectively). McGuire and Kuch (2005) suggested that collecting efforts would be needed to clarify the geographic and vertical distribution of these snakes in Borneo, where both forms may occur in parapatry or sympatry. (McGuire and Kuch 2005 and references therein)

The Red-headed Krait has a a striking appearance. Its body is mainly iridescent black or bluish black above (with enlarged vertebral scales forming a prominent vertebral ridge) and white below. The head and tail are red or orange, contrasting sharply with the body. Red-headed Kraits are nocturnal, feeding mainly on other snakes and skinks. They are terrestrial and oviparous. In Thailand, where the Red-headed Krait is one of three Bungarus species , Chanhome (2013) reported on the deposition and hatching of eggs from two wild-caught gravid females brought into captivity in 2000-2001. These females were fed weekly with live or frozen and  thawed snakes, Enhydris enhydris and E. plumbea. The sizes of the three clutches produced were 4, 6, and 10 (the two larger clutches coming from the larger female). Chanhome provided details on incubation conditions  incubation periods (for eggs that hatched, hatching occurred after 80-84 days), and egg and hatchling measurements. Although snake hatchlings typically feed for the first time after shedding (which occurred around a week after hatching for these newborns), these hatchlings could not be induced to eat and died. (Chanhome 2013)

Leviton et al. (2003) provide a technical description for this species: Dorsal scales in 13 longitudinal rows at midbody. Expanded neural crests of vertebrae form distinct ridge down back and tail; subcaudal scutes undivided, anteriorly those near the tip are divided. Ventrals: male 220-236, female 193-217; subcaudals: male 47-53, female 42-54.  Black above, often with an orange-yellow dorsal stripe; interstitial skin orange-yellow, giving appearance of longitudinal stripes; head orange-yellow; tail and posterior part of body orange-yellow; belly orange or yellow, sometimes edged with brow. Total length 1850 mm (tail 220 mm).

In Myanmar, Red-headed Kraits are found in Tanintharyi Division. The species allso occurs in Thailand, Malaysia, Cambodia, Vietnam, and western Indonesia. Although widely distributed in Malaysia, in Myanmar it has been recorded only from the extreme south, in the vicinity of Myeik (formerly Mergui) and Pyin Mountains. In Borneo and Thailand, this species is found mainly in forested areas from sea level to ~900 m elevation. In Sumatra, it has been reported to inhabit low-lying hills, with a preference for tropical wet forests. Red-headed Kraits, which are active at night, are generally found under leaf litter and beneath logs.  (Leviton et al. 2003 and references therein)


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