Want to know more about the sea snake then read on. Here are a few little facts to get you started.
The sea snake is a species which not many people know much about even though there are between 30-50 different types of sea snakes in the world. Despite being a sea snake and living mainly in the water they still need to come to the surface for air so are usually found in quite shallow waters. They can hold their breath for up to 8 hours under the water but still cannot breath without surfacing. And just like other snakes they are still cold blooded so they are mainly found on the warmer waters around the Indian Ocean and warm parts of the Pacific Ocean.
The sea snake is part of the Cobra family and has adapted to its environment over the years. On average it grows to around 2meters long and has a small head for the size of its body. Their tails are flat to act like a propeller when it the water, this enable them to swim fast when needed. They have also developed flaps over their nostrils, these flaps close when they are in the water to stop them from drowning and prevent water going into the nostrils itself. Sea snakes are normally dark on the top half and light underneath to help stop them from being seen. Sometimes these snakes have rings around the body; the rings tend to be black or grayish green. The Eel is often mistaken for a sea snake because of their similarities; the Eels are in fact a member of the fish family. The main difference is the fact that Eels can breathe underwater as they have gills were as the sea snake doesn’t have gills but lungs instead.
The sea snake is very poisonous, with venom which is 2-10 times stronger than that of a terrestrial snake taking just 3 drops to kill an adult. The most poisonous is the Beaded sea Snake which can kill eight adults with just three drops of its venom. They are however unlikely to bite unless you threaten them and they have short fangs for a snake, which are very unlikely to penetrate a diving suit.
Sea snakes are hunted by sea birds, sharks and larger fish and as well as their bite they have a few other defenses. These include spraying a stink at their prey to try and distract them while they get loose. They also spray musky liquid and secrete waste to try and put their predators off while they get away.
Sea snake feed on small fish, the fish eggs and even small Eels. They search for their food under rocks and in the reefs and stun them with their bite before finally eating them. One bite leaves the prey immobilized and unable to escape making it easy for the sea snake to feast on its find.
Most sea snakes will lay their eggs in the water. This is mainly due to the fact that as they have developed the enlarged ventral scales that allow the snake to grip to the surface and move on land are no longer present in most species. This means most sea snakes spend all their time in the water including the breeding process. The Sea Kraits are an example of the few species left which still lay their eggs on land normally returning to the same area each year. Sea snakes like the Olive Sea Snake breed in the water. The temperature of the water needs to be above 18 degrees Celsius so mainly reproduce in the warmer months.
Finally one last interesting fact is that because the sea snake lives in salty water they take in more salt than normal snakes. This means that they have had to adapt in order for their bodies to tolerate the high levels of salt that enter their bodies and blood streams. So in order to deal with this quickly and efficiently they have developed a gland under their mouths. This gland allows them to get rid of some of the excess salt by removing it from the gland with their tongue. This is why you may see the sea snake flickering their tongues back and forth as it’s a method of removing harmful levels of salt from their bodies.