Tuesday, October 26, 2010

A PO'd snake: Bluffing Boiga

Enough birds, lets have a look at something a bit punchier. This is one of Sri Lanka's endemic cat snakes; Boiga ceylonensis. Boiga are old-world rear fanged colubrids and are mildly venomous (localised swelling is, fingers crossed, the only result of a bite - bites to certain areas (like the face) or those with sensitivities to the venom obviously have the potential to be more serious). This guy was hiding under a cottage at the resort I stayed at in Yala NP and so was being relocated by the cleaning crew who weren't particuarly keen. Apparently cat snakes are widely believed to be highly venomous by the local population . To be fair given that Sri Lanka also boasts local races of monocled cobra, russell's viper and 2 kraits - all of which are properly dangerous, this isn't a bad belief to hold from a self-preservation aspect if you're snake id is questionable. Although the cleaners seemed to know it wouldn't be as bad as they may have been led to believe they weren't keen to get too close and were a bit surprised when I craweled under the cottage with it to take this shot.

cat snake

This is a fairly typical snakey bluff. He's in a strike position but is also inflating himself as much as possible to make himself look big and dangerous. This was accompanied by a hilarious roaring hissing noise. With the judicious use of a broom as a snake hook a combination of myself and the cleaners hooked him out into the open and he was subsequently bagged and relocated out in the brush. The residents of the cottage arrived at that point and I think its fair to say were less enamoured with the big roaring striking snake under their steps than I was.

cat snake1

I think their children may have been rather impressed with him by the end of the encounter though. The shot above shows how his throat is puffing up pretty well. I actually saw loads of this species - it seems to be very common which is rather nice as it's quite a cutie.

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