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One of 13 recognized Bungarus species, the Greater Black Krait (Bungarus niger) was described more than a century ago and is now known to be widely distributed in areas of high humidity and rainfall in northern India, Nepal, Bhutan, and Burma, occurring from mangroves at sea level to at least 1450m in the Himalayas. Investigations by Faiz et al. (2010) documented the presence of this species in Bangladesh as well.

Faiz et al. provide a detailed account of the medical consequences for humans bitten by B. niger and what is apparently the first published description of generalized rhabdomyolysis attributable to envenoming by any Asian or African terrestrial elapid snake. This rhabdomyolysis (rapid breakdown of skeletal muscle, with byproducts potentially causing kidney failure and other symptoms) is in addition to the more familiar respiratory failure associated with krait bite envenoming.

(Faiz et al. 2010 and references therein)

Bungarus niger is similar in appearance to the Lesser Black Krait (B. lividus), which appears to be its closest relative (Wall 1911; Slowinski 1994).


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© Leo Shapiro

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