Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Ular on My Mind

Oriental Whipsnake (Ahaetulla prasina) jangling and dangling on JTP's grounds.
Earlier this evening us folk here at JTP were treated to a gorgeous snake: the Oriental Whipsnake that is. Ahaetulla prasina in Latin speak, while ular is snake in Malay. This beauty reminds me very much of the elusive and prized Brown Vinesnake (Oxybelis aeneus) that could be found, but never by me, around the borderlands of Southern Arizona. Lucky for us on Tioman this serpent is quite common, even in human inhabited areas. This is the snake I've seen the most on the island since we got here four-plus months ago.
Alli and Dani are into it! You can see this one is quite lengthy.

The green color on these snakes is eye-catching, herpetological laffy taffy if you ask me. The specimen here was found lounging at eye level in a nearby coconut tree. Their impeccable camouflage also works to the advantage of my amateurish photography skills, since when spotted this species remains immobile. Hence the photos up in its grill. I've encountered only green varieties (the most common), but tan, gold, aqua-marine, yellow and orange exist, too. Rear fangs are present to deliver mildly toxic saliva (harmless to humans) to the frogs and snakes it prefers to chow down on. Notice the horizontal pupil in the close up; used to scope things directly in front of it. Most snakes have round or vertical pupils. Tip of the hat to L. Lee Grismer's field guide of the Seribuat Archipelago for the fascinating snake facts. That's all the ular news I have for the day.

Check out the horizontal pupil! I keep thinking of the song "I Hung My Head" when I look at this. The Johnny Cash version though, sorry Sting.

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