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Australia Snakes Species Profiles

Inland Taipan – The Most Venomous Snake in the World

Categories
Amphibians Asia HK Species Profiles

Green Cascade Frog – Hong Kong Wildlife | 大綠蛙 – 香港野生動物

The Green cascade frog, also known as Chloronate huia frog or Copper-cheeked frog, is a species of true frog (family Ranidae). As a matter of fact, many frog-like amphibians in Hong Kong are not true frogs.

Being quite large in size, bright green all over the back, and can make bigger jumps than most other local frogs, this is a frog you don’t easily misidentify when you come across one. I often find them in the same habitats with the very common Whipping frogs, Banded bullfrogs, Black-spined toads, and Hong Kong newts.

This species is also found in other parts of China, India, Laos, Myanmar, Thailand, Vietnam, Cambodia, and possibly Bangladesh and Nepal.

Sorry for poor quality – it’s from a video I was recording the jump

Odorrana chloronota (Günther, 1875)
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Amphibia
Order: Anura
Family: Ranidae
Genus: Odorrana
Species: chloronota

See more of my encounters with Hong Kong Wildlife.

大綠蛙廣泛分布於香港的山溪

Categories
Asia HK Snakes Species Profiles

Blind Snake – Hong Kong Wildlife | 盲蛇 – 香港野生動物

This 4-inch noodle I found in my backyard is a fully-grown blind snake — one of the smallest snakes in the world.

Eyesight is never an important sense of snakes. But most snakes do see and have exposed, visible eyeballs. However, as the name suggests, blind snakes are completely blind. The eyes can’t form images, but can still register light intensity, and are barely discernible as tiny dots under head translucent scales. In some blind snakes, you even can’t see the dots, like this one in my picture.

Pretty common but you don’t often see them because they are totally fossorial animals living underground. That’s why being blind won’t bother them at all.

There are 3 blind snakes in Hong Kong:

  1. Brahminy blind snake or locally called Common blind snake (Indotyphlops braminus) is native to most of Asia and Africa. It has been introduced to Australia and throughout most of the Americas.
    鉤盲蛇
  2. White-headed blind snake (Indotyphlops albiceps) is a less common species of blind snake.
    白頭鈎盲蛇
  3. Hong Kong blind snake or Lazell’s blind snake (Indotyphlops lazelli) is a little-known species endemic to Hong Kong, first described in 2004.
    香港盲蛇

Indotyphlops (Ramphotyphlops) braminus (Daudin, 1803)
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Reptilia
Order: Squamata
Suborder: Serpentes
Family: Typhlopidae
Genus: Indotyphlops
Species: braminus

See more of my encounters with Hong Kong Wildlife.

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Asia Snakes

Pit Vipers of Asia – A Few of the Eye Candies That Won’t Kill You

Many Kiwis, Hawaiians, and Europeans who recently moved to Asia like to tell me how wonderful Asia is and how much they love living in Asia. But there is this one specific nightmare that is bothering them – snakes.

I say it’s fair enough to have snakes here. As the largest continent on earth and being warm and bushy, why would you not think there would be snakes in here? Not trying to scare you but I can easily name some venomous snakes in Asia – King cobra and many other cobras, kraits, coral snakes, sea snakes, Russell’s viper, and saw-scaled viper – all deadly. If you believe bright-colored snakes are more dangerous then I have to tell you, no. Most of the deadly snakes I mentioned are in dull colors from brown, gray to black. Ironically, the bright-colored venomous snakes in Asia are usually not deadly, such as the Asian pit vipers of the genus Trimeresurus. Here are a few I have encountered:

Most of the species are bright green like this:

Bamboo pit viper (Trimeresurus albolabris)

An unusual one can be blue like this:

Sunda Island pit viper (Trimeresurus insularis)

There are also a few exceptional dark ones like this:

Mangrove pit viper (Trimeresurus purpureomaculatus)
Categories
Asia Snakes Species Profiles

Sunda Island Pit Viper (Trimeresurus insularis)

The Komodo dragon is not the only animal in Komodo Island that makes me visit over and over again. This snake has always been the second sought-after species in my previous trips to Komodo Island.

The Sunda Island pitviper (a.k.a. Lesser Sunda Island pit viper, White-lipped island pit viper, or Blue insularis viper) is native to Komodo and some nearby Indonesian islands such as Bali, Flores, Lombok, Padar, Rinca, eastern Java, Adonara, Alor, Romang, Roti, Sumba, Sumbawa, Wetar, and also Timor of East Timor.

Although mostly turquoise or blue, some snakes of this species can be bright green or bright yellow. Interestingly, some blue individuals are born green and turn into blue in a year or two. No doubt, this species has the most outstanding colors of all 50 species of Asian pit vipers (Trimeresurus) while 90% of the species in the genus are green such as the Bamboo pit viper. A few species are very dark to almost black such as the Mangrove pit viper.

Trimeresurus insularis (Kramer, 1977)
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Reptilia
Order: Squamata
Suborder: Serpentes
Family: Viperidae
Genus: (Cryptelytrops) Trimeresurus
Species: insularis

Categories
Snakes

Ouroboros: The Snake That Eats Itself

Life, death, and rebirth.

Ouroboros (or uroboros) — an ancient symbol depicting a reptile eating its own tail. It symbolizes fertility in some religions. The tail is a phallic symbol (an erect penis). The mouth is a yonic (vagina) or womb-like symbol.

In real life, it happens.

Although not common, I have seen snakes eating themselves. Scientifically, autocannibalism (self-cannibalism) in snakes is not normal. Well so, snakes get disoriented when overheated, and their metabolism goes into overdrive. It makes the snakes feel so hungry to the point that they will try to eat the first moving thing they see, and that’s usually their own tail. When the feeding mechanism starts, snakes will have their focus fully on consuming the prey. The feeling of pain will be overridden. Many snakes will keep going even if they’re bit, mauled, and even beheaded.

You can see why ancient Egyptians chose snakes to symbolize the eternal cycle of life, death, and rebirth.

Categories
Asia Snakes Species Profiles

Mangrove Pit Viper (Trimeresurus purpureomaculatus)

Taking close-up photos of venomous snakes is always my kind of adrenaline booster. This one was even more exciting with me knowing the fact that there’s no antivenin specifically made for this snake. Bites are treated with polyvalent antivenin in SE Asian hospitals.

The Mangrove pit viper (a.k.a. Mangrove viper, Shore pit viper, or Purple-spotted pit viper) is a small venomous snake growing to 66-90 centimeters (26-35 in). It is native to Singapore, West Malaysia, Sumatra and Java of Indonesia, Thailand, India, Burma, and Bangladesh.

You don’t always have to be the brightest one to stand out from the crowd. Take a look at this dark horse.

It may look black to the untrained eye. But if you look carefully it is a very dark purple hue, hence its Latin name purpureomaculatus. You may think that with such a dark color this must be a subtle snake trying to look just like most other snakes. But it is in fact so special being the darkest species in its genus (Asian pit vipers – Trimeresurus).

Being dark is rare, while all its cousins are bright.

Although few exceptional ones can be bright yellow or bright blue such as the Sunda Island pit viper, over 90% of species in this genus are bright green, including the Bamboo pit viper which is the most common species in the genus and was also described by British zoologist John Edward Gray. Even though it is more well-known than other Asian pit vipers nowadays, back then it was first known to science a good decade after the much more subtle-looking Mangrove pit viper was. The dark color didn’t help much from being discovered. This is the fifth species to be described (1832) in the entire genus of 50 species of Asian pit vipers.

There used to be 2 subspecies – this one (Trimeresurus purpureomaculatus purpureomaculatus) and another one that is endemic to the Andaman Islands of India (Trimeresurus purpureomaculatus andersoni) which is now separated and classified as a full species named Andaman pit viper (Trimeresurus andersonii) a.k.a. Nicobar mangrove pit viper or Anderson’s pitviper.

Trimeresurus purpureomaculatus (Gray, 1832)
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Reptilia
Order: Squamata
Suborder: Serpentes
Family: Viperidae
Genus: (Cryptelytrops) Trimeresurus
Species: purpureomaculatus

Categories
Asia HK Snakes Species Profiles

Common Wolf Snake – Hong Kong Wildlife | 白環蛇 – 香港野生動物

Not only pet snakes can have designer morphs.

The Wolf Snake is native to a large range of South Asia and Southeast Asia. Individuals of the same species from different locations appear to be very different. Patterns can be variable from patches, collars to bands. Coloration also varies from black, brownish, grayish, olive, to yellowish, pearl white and iridescent. It’s a result of divergent evolution.

It’s similar to how pet snakes got all the non-normal patterns and colors (morphs) generations after generations.

Lycodon aulicus (Linnaeus, 1758)
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Reptilia
Order: Squamata
Suborder: Serpentes
Family: Colubridae
Genus: Lycodon
Species: aulicus

See more of my encounters with Hong Kong Wildlife.

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Africa

Wild Elephant’s Foot Plants in Isalo, Madagascar | 我在馬達加斯加伊薩盧遇見象牙宮

Yes, this is one of the rare succulents “trending” recently especially in Asia. Keeping them in pots at home is a really good hobby. Finding wild ones in their natural habits is just on another level.

Even photos of wild ones are not as easy to find as most other objects.

Here is one of the wild elephant’s foot plants I came across in Isalo, Madagascar.

It looks like Pachypodium rosulatum var. gracilius to me (but I have not studied botany so please correct me if I’m wrong)

All my field trips were fauna-focused hence I didn’t have much time to spend on the plants in Madagascar. (The animals kept me busy all the time) But I was just amazed by this unique plant I almost walked past by.

Also, the animals I studied rely largely on their unique habitats in Madagascar. Gotta have an idea about these interesting plants.

Only after I climbed up this mountain I could be eligible to comment on that mountain behind me.

Isalo is in the southwestern corner of the Province of Fianarantsoa, in the Ihorombe region. It is 720 km away from Madagascar’s capital city (Antananarivo). Not super far but due to road conditions it took me 3 full days to only get there. It’s for sure worth it.

Being completely different from the rest of Madagascar, Isalo is arid and hot, filled with deep canyons, sandstone domes, and flat-topped mountains.

Not as many animals here comparing to the rest of Madagascar. Mostly lemurs, desert lizards, boas, scorpions, and birds. Landscape and plants are uniquely amazing though. Over 70% of plants are endemic. This is exactly where the Elephant’s foot plants in my photos were.

(象牙宮 塊根植物 多肉植物)

Categories
Americas HK Me

Color Is The New Forbidden Fruit

From yellow vs blue in Hong Kong to black vs white in the States.

A world like now everything is politics, things pure as colors have become risky words, is keeping people to think less, speak less, and act less.