4th – 5th December 2009
This was how close I was to the snake when I cycled past it during my last overnight stay at Semakau Island. This snake – with its triangular-shaped head – is one of the most venomous snakes you can encounter on Semakau Island. Ladies and gentlemen, I present to you the Mangrove Shore Pit Viper (Trimeresurus purpureomaculatus). In a pitch-black condition where your partner 1 meter is away is just a black silhouette, this snake looked very much like apiece of dead wood. But then this bit at the corner of my mind whispered,
“Doesn’t it look too S-shape for a piece of wood… it’s a snake, you idiot!”
Though I know I could be wrong, and there’s a possibility that it might turn out to be a piece of worthless junk that some asshole threw into the sea, I knew in my heart of hearts that it was a snake. And not just any snake, during the first time we did the 1st land survey at Semakau, it was somewhere near the southern point (about where I was standing) that one of the volunteers saw a Mangrove Shore Pit!
This is my second pit viper in the span of 1 year. Venomous creatures, one strike from the viper can hurt – even kill. Quick and deadly, the shore pit usually prefers the cover of trees and bushes than open areas. But I guess it was looking for dinner (usually small rodents and lizards, sometimes birds even) when I bumped into it. More active at night than it is in the morn, the snake started to slither away slowly when it noticed that some pesky humans were in its company.
As the light bulbs started flashing from my camera, the snake slowly took a turn towards the landfill where there were more peace and quiet.
“Probably more animals to hunt too without these pesky human flies buzzing around”.
I have tried finding out whether snakes get hurt by the camera flash but got nothing much out of it. The one at Sungei Buloh, Singapore has scales that are darker and more monotone.
An overall shot of the snake as it slided and slithered across the warm tarred road. Many a times, it reared back its head, going into the S-shaped defensive position. Yes, I might have gotten struck or bitten by the snake, especially at such a close distance – and it would have served me right too, for having invaded the private space belonging to the snake.
Lesson learned: Respect! *checked and duly chastened too!* >_<
Last but definitely not the least was the encounter with a Dog-Faced Water Snake (Cerberus rynchops) on the second day after the Hunting-Seeking session in the evening. Eagle-eyed Marcus saw this slithering fellow by a dead piece of wood and notified the four girls trailing after him. I guess it was karma from the day before and my camera’s flash just refused to work.
Compared to the Shore Pit, the Dog-Faced’s venom is not that fatal. But it is sufficient against smaller prey like fish and crabs. Though I personally do not feel that this snake shares any resemblance to a man’s best friend in any way, the one who named this snake might have felt otherwise. Because it lives in water, the eyes are positioned best when it’s located at the top of the head. That so because this allows the snake to see what’s at the top when its entire body is soaked in water.
There was a 3rd snake (Common Wolf Snake) but it was too quick and there were just too many blood-sucking vamp… I mean, mosquitoes.
3 snakes in the wild, 2 days… what more can a girl ask for right? That reminds me, first aid training! =)