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The sea snake is a type of snake native to the Indian and Pacific oceans of northern Australia. Sea snakes have flat tails which aid in swimming and nostril flaps that close when they are beneath the surface of the water. They may be a variety of different colors depending on the species. There are approximately 31 different species of sea snake in existence, some of which include mangrove snakes, salt marsh snakes, banded sea snakes, and sea kraits. Adult sea snakes may be as long as 6.6 feet (2 m) or as small as 20 inches (50 cm).
Sea snakes require air to live, and because of this they are typically found in shallow waters. This makes it easier for them to come to the surface often. Most sea snakes cannot survive for long on land, but they do occasionally come to shore for short periods of time. Mating takes place underwater with the male and female taking turns surfacing for air. The male sea snake cannot detach himself from the female until mating is completed.
Bites from a sea snake do not typically kill humans, although they are very poisonous creatures. The venom of a sea snake is generally twice as potent as that of most deadly land snakes, such as rattlesnakes and copperheads, but they have very small fangs and are not usually aggressive by nature. Most sea snakes have a fang size between 5/64 to 5/32 of an inch long (2 to 4 mm). Fatal sea snake attacks on humans are occasionally reported, but most of the victims are fishermen who ran into their nests. These types of snakes normally try to avoid humans, but may attempt to attack if they are harassed or captured.
If a person is bitten by a sea snake, it may take as long as 30 minutes before the effects are felt. Pain in the bitten limb, muscle pain, and respiratory difficulty are all typically reported after an attack, although some people do not become ill at all. Anti-venom should be given promptly to anyone experiencing severe pain from a bite, but is usually not necessary if no ill effects are experienced. The anti-venom is given in the form of an injection, and it is made to neutralize the effects of the poison in the bloodstream. If a doctor does not have sea snake anti-venom, tiger snake anti-venom may be substituted.
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