Thursday, January 20, 2011

Belcher's Sea Snake ( Hydrophis Belcheri )

Hydrophis Belcheri

Belcher's Sea Snake ( Hydrophis Belcheri )

Snake's Description: Hydrophis Belcheri's thin body is usually chrome yellowish in colour and is surrounded by dark greenish bands. Head is short and has same color as that of bands. Its mouth is very small but suitable for aquatic life. Its body when viewed outside water appears having fainted yellow colour.
Snake's Names: Its scientific name 'Hydrophis Belcheri' was given by John Edward Gray in 1849 which commemorates the British Naval officer and explorer Sir Edward Belcher (1799-1877). Hydrophis comes from Greek 'hydro' = water + 'ophis' = serpent, belcheri comes from latin here 'belonging to man named belcher'. It is also referred as Faint Banded Sea Snake and Belcher's Sea Snake.
Snake's Characteristics: Hydrophis Belcheri is a sea snake. Its scales are different from other snakes and they overlap each other. Dorsal pattern does not extend on to venter; it has scales with a central tubercle. It is highly compressed at the rear end of the body and has a short head. Abdominal board is very narrow or non-existent. Like other sea snakes it has a paddle-like tail which make him an expert swimmer; it rarely goes on land, eats fish and shellfish. It breaths air, has valves over its nostrils that close underwater. It can hold its breath for as long as 7 to 8 hours while hunting and even sleeping but then has to come over water surface for a quick breath of air. It is a docile specie and not aggressive at all. It is usually active at night. It may deliver a provoked bite only after repeated severe treatment. It usually bites fishermen handling nets but only (1/4)th of those bitten are envenomated since Belcheri rarely injects any venom. Few milligrams (mg) of Belcheri's myotoxic venom is enough to kill an estimate of more than 1000 people. If Belcheri injects sure death within few minutes. Painful death may even take less time depending on victim's body size and time taken by infected blood to reach its vital organs. It is the most toxic venomous specie of snake known to date and holds a record in Guinness Book.
Snake's Length: Hydrophis Belcheri range from 0.5 to 1 metre in length.
Snake's Distribution: Its main habitat is the Ashmore Reef in the Timor Sea off north-western coast of Australia. It is also found in seas of Indonesia and the South Pacific, having been recorded in the Philippines near Visayan and Panay islands, Gulf of Thailand, Sulawesi, New Guinea, Fiji, Kiribati, and the Solomon Islands.
This sea snake is not ranked nor included in my top tens due to its non-terrestrial nature and limited human encounters. Even if it bites it rarely injects any venom, though being most venomous it is not most dangerous at all.

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