Why did Karait get killed by Rikki-tikki? 

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Shortly after Rikki-tikki survives Nagaina's attack, Teddy comes running down the path to pet him and Rikki-tikki hears Kariat, the brown snakeling say, "Be careful. I am Death!" (Kipling, 3). Despite Kariat's small size, his bite is even more dangerous than a cobra's and his threat infuriates Rikki-tikki, who has...

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Shortly after Rikki-tikki survives Nagaina's attack, Teddy comes running down the path to pet him and Rikki-tikki hears Kariat, the brown snakeling say, "Be careful. I am Death!" (Kipling, 3). Despite Kariat's small size, his bite is even more dangerous than a cobra's and his threat infuriates Rikki-tikki, who has the responsibility of protecting Teddy. Upon hearing Kariat's threat, Rikki-tikki's eyes turn red and he begins rocking in a steady motion as he approaches the dangerous brown snakeling. Rikki-tikki is unaware that Kariat is significantly more threatening than Nag or Nagaina and jumps into the air to avoid his deadly strike. When Kariat lunges too far, Rikki-tikki manages to jump on his back and bite down on his neck. Rikki-tikki successfully paralyzes Karait and kills him before Teddy's father begins beating the snakeling's lifeless body. Overall, Rikki-tikki kills Kariat after the deadly snakeling threatens to bite Teddy.

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Rikki-tikki killed Karait because Karait threatened to harm Teddy.  

The fight between Karait and Rikki-tikki is very brief, and the build-up to it is even more brief. The text says Rikki-tikki was ready to be petted. Teddy is only too happy to oblige, and right when Teddy bends down, Karait announces his presence: "Be careful. I am Death!"

Karait is a "brown snakeling," meaning he is a young brown snake. There are two main types of brown snakes. The North American brown snake is harmless. Karait is not this kind of snake, because the text says his bite is as deadly as a cobra's bite. That means Karait is likely an Eastern brown snake. According to various sources, the Eastern brown snake is the second most toxic land snake in the world. That ranking puts Karait's venom as more powerful than Nag and Nagaina's venom. Karait is dangerous and threatening to Teddy. Rikki-tikki is a mongoose, and killing snakes is what he does. Add to that the credible threat that Karait is to Teddy. Rikki-tikki's instinct is to kill the snake and protect Teddy.  

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