Snakes I have found in Borneo

Borneo’s snake species I have photographed

Well, Borneo is hailed as having the highest snake diversity in the world. But where are they all? Maybe I just had bad luck for most of it (cobras getting away, loads of road killed snakes etc…) but I will share with you what I have found in the way of living snakes…

 

Green vine snake (Ahaetulla prasina)

snake

An awesome snake that mimics vines so well. It’s a common creature but may be more common than thought as they are so damn hard to see in a green tree! They feed both day and night on frogs and lizards.

   Their vision is excellent. The two eyes are facing forwards to focus on a target once it is spotted. To make it even easier, the snake’s snout is grooved to increase the overlap between the eyes for better depth perception!The bite is harmless to humans, and they would rather point the tongue at the attacker and puff up anyway. Local legend says that they will stab a human in the eyes but this is crap.

Mangrove cat snake (Boiga dendrophila)

  Much feared but for no real reason is the rather inoffensive mangrove or ringed cat snake. No, they don’t eat cats, the name comes from the eye. It has a striking black and yellow banded pattern. Not dangerous to humans it lives in mangrove forests and the lowland jungle.

It’s a large species growing over 2m long and is a common pet for traditional medicine traders and zoos/”wildlife” parks.

It will feed on frogs, rats and birds, occasionally taking other snakes too.

By day this species can be found coiled up in branches over rivers.

 

The rings on the mangrove cat snake may cause confusion with the deadly land kraits. One of the largest cat snakes, this species may exceed 2m!

The slender cat snake (Boiga drapiezii)


Ridiculously  slender, this cat snake is nocturnal like most cat snakes. It feeds on lizards and frogs presumably.

Unknown snake

   I found this snake out one night (see these videos) deep in the jungle. It is a Natricine of sorts from the Colubridae family. Other than that I have no more info about it…

 

 

Red triangle keelback (Xenochrophis trianguligera)

  What a snake! Where I’m from (Australia) the keelbacks are represented by only one species. Our species is rather drab, but this one is awesome.

With a brown back and bright red and yellow belly overlaid with black zig zags and a rainbow sheen this is one of the most spectacular of all the Natricine snakes. Like the others it is a frog eater by trade most of the time, and here is getting to work on a frilled tree frog (Rhacophorus appendiculatus).

It is debatable whether it has venom or not, but there are reports of close relatives of this snake killing people. It’s a shy, retiring species but a wonderful one at the same time. The name “keelback” comes from the ridge on the middle of each back scale.

 

This snake is one of the most spectacular of the keelbacks

White nosed water snake (Amphiesma flavifrons)


Another keelback is the white nosed water snake. It is common in small streams and often seen late in the afternoon when the water is at its warmest. They hunt for fish and frogs. Not offensive, even handling one is unlikely to get a bite.

 

The red sided keelback (Rhabdophis conspicillata)

The red-sided keelback snake is abundant along streams in the lowlands.

OK, the picture says “abundant” and most people agree, but this is the only one of these I have ever seen. It’s a small, likely harmless snake that eats frogs.

Blunt nosed tree snake (Aplopeltura boa)

The blunt nosed tree snake is harmless to humans, feeding mostly on slugs and snails.

One night I was climbing up a steep hill in a vine forest and stumbled right into this snake. It’s a blunt nosed tree snake and it has an unusual diet. Other than the frogs and lizards it may take from time to time it loves a little escargot on the side. Snails and slugs form the greater part of the diet. Think about it… soft, rubbery and easy to digest. Also plentiful too. The snake has a hooked lower jaw for helping the snails out of the shells.

Reticulated Python (Python reticulatus)

  Arguably the world’s longest snake, the reticulated python has been recorded eating pigs, deer and even people! But large specimens are rare these days as locals eat them and their habitat is shrinking very fast. But small to medium snakes remain common. They, like other pythons kill by strangulation. They lunge at the victim, seize it by the head and as quick as a flash wind it up in a coil. Within seconds the victim blacks out due to the inability to breathe, and once it stops moving altogether the snake swallows it head first. It’s a remarkably efficient way to do business. As an extra weapon they have heat sensing pits that can see warm blooded prey in total darkness! They sit where they think prey is most likely to drop by and wait, much like this one, ready to strike at a moment’s notice.

Excellent camouflage protects the snake from being seen, either by predators or by prey.

Pit vipers (Trimeresurus, Tropidolaemis)

Agents of death, the pit vipers are covered in this article, but enjoy the pictures here too!

A Pope's pit viper

A Pope’s pit viper can be hard to see in the trees

[Tropidolaemis wagleri] The Wagler’s pitviper is perhaps the most commonly seen of all pitvipers in Borneo. It is also the most docile, but when handled roughly may become very snappy indeed.

Flowerpot snake (Ramphotyphlops brahminus)

[Ramphotyphlops brahminus] Native to Asia, the flowerpot snake has been spread through the plant trade throughout the world. Males of this species do not exist. Females simply clone themselves by laying eggs containing genetically identical offspring, save for the odd mutation here and there.

A tiny snake, the flowerpot snake gets its name from the fact it is often found all over the world after being accidentally transported in flower pots. It is native to Asia and can be commonly found in gardens. It eats and and termite larvae and is often only as thick as a drinking straw or less.

That’s about it for my snake species of Borneo so far…

The horned frogs and relatives

Horned frogs of Borneo

The horned frogs are weird creatures that display remarkable adaptations to live in very specific habitats. They also are remarkably varied, from massive forest heavyweights to tiny fingernail sized streambank dwellers. This is where we will start…

Miniature horned frogs – the dwarf litter frogs

The Kinabalu dwarf litter frog is found along mid altitude streams and is more often heard than seen

The lowland dwarf litter frog has a loud call that can hurt human ears at close range, though it is less than 2cm long!

These tiny forest dwellers (Leptobrachella spp) are so easy to overlook, in fact nearly impossible to find unless you are actually searching for them. The call is a rapid clicking or a buzz that is heard along almost every stream up to 1800m above sea level, so long as the stream is clean of course… Males call from leaves on the stream bank or among the debris. To find one is very hard, the call is difficult to pin point. Tadpoles live under the gravel in the stream and are almost never seen. Leptobrachella baluensis call

Slender litter frogs

The painted slender litter frog has no climbing adaptations yet manages to clamber about the trees and branches with ease

This species of slender litter frog is found in high altitude streams and has lovely apricot patches on its flanks

Larger in size but still pretty cool and still horned frogs are the slender litter frogs. They are quite common in the forests of Borneo, especially around clean streams. Their call is a cricket-like trill that goes for several minutes at a time. In fact you wouldn’t think the call is from a frog at all! They don’t have any pads on the fingers or toes yet are very often seen high in trees or climbing along twigs, their movements remind me of the local lemur- the slow loris! Leptolalax dringii call

Short litter frogs

Horned frogs

This looks to me like the mountain litter frog, but is a little low in altitude at 750m…

Getting even bigger are the Leptobrachium frogs. These are more like the larger horned frogs but lack the protrusions above the eyes. The call is usually a deep, explosive “Wahk” and when they notice they have been seen, they crouch down and are very hard to spot.

The smaller of the larger horned frogs

Found only in highland streams, this mystery horned frog (Xenophrys?) can be hard to find

This is getting more like it! This horned frog might belong to the genus Xenophrys and this species, like the other Xenophrys are high altitude specialists in Borneo, only found above 1300m. The one in the picture is a large female, and you can see the “horns” above the eyes they share with other horned frogs. They live along streams in the cloud forests.

At last- the giant horned frogs of Asia!

The montane horned frog is found only around highland streams

The common horned frog looks much like a dead leaf.

The biggest of the horned frogs of Asia belong to the Megophrys genus. They are monsters at times, with the female Megophrys nasuta being the size of an adult human’s hand. With a bear-trap like mouth that gobbles up almost anything that will fit in it they are opportunists of the finest kind. Scorpions, spiders, insects and small reptiles and frogs are all fair game. But they do have a fondness for snails of all things. The call is a loud honking and is one of the loudest frog calls of all, usually made at last light in the afternoon. They are forest and stream bank dwellers that live in small burrows that they use to ambush prey from. The most remarkable thing about these is the tadpoles. They are totally specialized unlike no other. With a funnel-like mouth they sift the surface for bacteria and pollen! They can only survive in the cleanest streams.

..And this is what it does. This tadpole feeds on pollen, bacteria and yeasts that float on the surface of the water, funneling them into the strange shaped mouth…

So there you have it… horned frogs!

Flying frogs?

Flying frogs!

Wallace's Flying frogs

The most famous of the flying frogs, the Wallace’s flying frog glides from tree to tree by flattening the body and expanding the webbing in the fingers and toes.

Southeast Asia is a strange place. What is left of the rapidly vanishing forests is home to some animals with remarkable adaptations. The most remarkable of these in terms of travel is the ability to glide or fly between trees or leap out of the water and take to the air to escape predators. This must have been very important for many animals, so it is quite common for the forest and aquatic inhabitants to have some sort of adaptation to deal with this. Please welcome the animals that have taken to the air. We all know about flying birds and insects, as well as mammals like bats but every higher vertebrate group is represented by something that can fly, or at least glide. This includes:

Mammals

  • Colugo or flying lemur
  • Giant flying squirrels

Reptiles

  • Gliding dragons (genus Draco)
  • Gliding snakes (Genus Chrysopelia)
  • Gliding geckoes

Frogs

  • Flying frogs!

Maybe not in the forest, but out at sea and around the coasts we can add flying fish (Exocoetidae) to the list to complete it.

The most common of the “flying frogs” where it is found, the harlequin flying frog has spectacular red webbing in the fingers and toes

It was the flying frogs that I wanted to have a look at. These are remarkable animals and are convergent with remarkably similar species in South America. They look much like what most people would consider “normal” for a tree frog, you know the type- green with sticky pads on the fingers and toes. But it gets better, the webbing in flying frogs’ fingers and toes has been greatly expanded, giving rise to the generic name for the Asian species Rhacophorus which literally means “Rag bearer” as revealed to the outside world by adventurer and hardcore scientist Alfred Russell Wallace. This is used to at least reduce the terminal velocity (maximum falling speed) of the frogs as they leap away from danger or head to the forest floor to breed (the only time they leave the tree tops). This is the case with the Harlequin flying frog (Rhacophorus pardalis) which is not much of a glider, usually gliding vertically. The master of this domain is the Wallace’s flying frog Rhacophorus nigropalmatus. This frog can glide at a 45 degree angle due to its larger surface area due to massively over sized fingers and toes- with the webbing to match. You can read about how Phil Lewis and I got these pictures and found these frogs by clicking on the text.

And this is how it’s done!

How could you not love flying frogs?

Many faces of Morelia spilota, the carpet python

An introduction to the forms of Australian carpet python Morelia spilota

Hi again, I have been looking through my archived pictures and want to share with you all some shots of one of my favorite snakes. In most of Australia it is quite common, when I lived on the east coast it was rare to go out at night and not see one. It’s the famous carpet python (Morelia spilota) and they are quite variable. Like most pythons they have heat sensing pits around the mouth. These are remarkable devices. Hyper sensitive to changes in heat, recent research suggests they are linked up with the nerves coming from the eyes so they can literally see heat as an overlay on their vision! There is also speculation this ability may be switched on and off at will. Whatever the case, they are beautiful animals and I’ll share what I have so far:

Morelia spilota carpet python

The variety found around the Top End

A bit snappy!

Top End carpet python (Morelia spilota variegata)

The first subspecies we will look at is this one. It’s not so common anymore, probably due to the westward march of cane toads across the top of Australia. Combined with poaching from the wild, which is rife around Darwin where this snake is found – it is getting harder to encounter in the wild.Like all of the subspecies of carpet python, this one is the right color to blend in with its surrounds- the savannah woodland.

The common or “garden” variety of carpet python from the east coast of Australia

The Eastern carpet python (Morelia spilota mcdowelli)

If you happen to live on the east coast of Australia, this is the most likely subspecies of carpet python you may see. Morelia spilota mcdowelli is rather abundant, in fact in the older suburbs of inner Brisbane you will find it lives unnoticed in around 50% of houses! Home owners are rarely aware as these snakes are quite happy to sit in the attic and gobble up all of the rodents. Free pest control without the poisons! You can’t lose. Oddly enough this subspecies is most similar to the western carpet python Morelia spilota imbricata. But if you keep chickens you may want to keep them secure at night…

The possible hybrid

I found this specimen in the forest near Tully, north Queensland. I’m not sure if it’s just a dull version of the next subspecies of carpet python or if it’s a hybrid with the eastern…

The beautiful jungle carpet python

Jungle carpet python

The last one for now is the most spectacular of them. The jungle carpet python (Morelia spilota cheneyi) is beautiful dark brown with canary yellow blotches. It is highly desired by collectors so I will not give the location of this picture. They are only found in a tiny speck on the map between Tully and the Atherton Tablelands in North Queensland.

Long live the Morelia spilota, the carpet python!

Trying to find a piece of pristine forest…

One of the cooler things I have done in Sabah during my stay was to head out into the jungle alone to look for the wildlife. But actually finding a tract of primary forest is not so easy. Sure, there is primary forest here and there, but much of it only exists on the hillsides where it is not yet economically viable to harvest the wood and/or plant oil palms. Lowland forest on the flat ground is very rare compared to what it was many years ago. A few areas remain, and are protected by law such as the Danum Valley and Maliau Basin. But on a budget like mine I could never afford to go to these places – I already spent a fortune going to the Danum once as it was. So the search began. The first port of call was Lahad Datu on the east coast. This place does have a fair bit of jungle left. But I wanted to go further afield. Along the southern main road heading back to the west coast looked good on the maps, and getting there seemed easy. So I jumped back on the bike and headed south to Tawau.

Arriving at dusk in Tawau was an experience in itself. It is a sprawling, tired, run-down town though many of the buildings are nowhere near as old as they look. I saw some European tourists looking a little disorientated on a traffic island, so I pulled up to say hello. A young couple, they were new in Sabah, actually new in Asia and were looking for something to do with a spare couple of hours. I knew as much about Tawau as they did, but we had attracted attention…

A kid around ten years old or so called out “Hey, white people!” in Indonesian from the open air market over the roadand soon enough around five of them crowded us. The Europeans looked at them with mistrust. These kids were up to no good. The oldest one came around the front of the bike, started pawing at my head torch I keep on the handlebars and gave it the thumbs up. He told me he wanted it and I should give it to him. Next he wanted my phone. I don’t care what anyone says, I find myself becoming very intolerant of cheeky behavior like this. I owe them nothing. I sensed something was going on right behind me. Instinctively I covered my wallet with my hand, looked at the other kids milling a little too close and gave them a “busted!” grin. It is an old tactic, have someone up front to get attention and get the others to pick the pockets from behind. They did not succeed, nor has any pickpocket so far with me! Speaking with some Sabahan friends about it later, they told me that they do not trust the Indonesians that come over the border (which is only 5km away) illegally and treat everyone, including locals like they owe them whatever they want.

The next morning I continued west towards Maliau. I headed past Kalabakan and down the long road. Sealed road gave way to dirt and forest only existed in tiny patches, not much larger than city blocks. For much of the journey all I could see in any direction was rows and rows of oil palm right to the horizon. It was a depressing sight. What hope has wildlife got in this place? There was no sign of any towns coming up any time soon so I pressed on. Fuel became a concern after a while, so I stopped and asked a Filipino road works crew if they knew of any fuel.

“Yes, further.” said one of the men wearing silver aviator glasses and a spare shirt as a balaclava.

Maybe I should have asked how much further… Some time later I encountered another crew who informed me that there is only diesel here on in. So I turned back the hour’s drive to Kalabakan. This town is a little brighter and perkier than most Kampungs in the region. The streets were narrow and the buildings were painted brightly in green and pink (normal in this part of the world). I pulled into the service station and was approached by a rather rotund gentleman. He introduced himself and asked if I was from Australia. I told him I was, and he said he would probably see me there. He went on to explain that he was on his way over from Pakistan and that Australia’s immigration policy had loads of easy ways in. He would pose as a refugee and reap the benefits. He thought it was funny.

Having seen enough of this character who was not a refugee in any way shape or form I needed some lunch. The local river was filthy yellow-brown from the oil palm runoff. Such is the case with so many of the rivers here. Prior to the forest being logged and oil palm replacing it, older locals from all around Sabah tell me that the rivers were so clear, even the largest ones emptied into the sea beautiful clear water and along the entire length of them you could see the bottom. Now, no matter the time of year they are heavily silted and the visibility is a few millimeters at best. So I parked the bike and walked into a small restaurant built over the water. A typical local style, everything is plastic from the furniture right down to the plates and cups- usually bright red, green, pink or blue. Usually the safest meal is the simple nasi goreng – local fried rice. Out it came, meat all through it. What a nice change, to actually have meat when you order it. Usually they get only a spoonful, break it up as much as possible and put it all in the top layer so it looks like there is more. It was different to what I was used to. Something wasn’t right… Each thin slice curled a little and on one edge had pale yellowish bristles. It tasted OK though. But soon enough I realized what it actually was – tongue! I had not knowingly eaten tongue until then, but the feeling of an animal licking the back of your throat as you swallow a piece of it might not be to everyone’s taste.

The future- a green barren desert that will likely suck all of the goodness from the soil which cannot be replaced. A future wasteland.

Heading on, I drove back out through the vast palm oil deserts and into some hills. So far intact, the forest here was lush and thick. Life was bursting out from everywhere. But I needed the right kind of forest. A clean river was what I required for the walk in. I was planning on living off any fish I could catch, as I did not take in enough food otherwise. This was actually part of the original plan. I really wanted to video myself walking in and making a shelter – catching my meals. Maybe I was 20 years too late. The rivers were plentiful, but a horrible coffee color. My suspicions were confirmed after talking with a good friend of mine, Angelo (after this trip). This guy is one of the smartest and most charismatic people I have met anywhere. He told me of the days when you could go to the rivers along this road and they were gin clear. Not even the deepest parts were hidden from view. Mahseer (predatory carp) in the area were commonly over fifteen kilograms and easy to catch. But logging began and practically overnight the rivers were silted beyond repair. Even far downstream of the logging, the main supply arteries of the forest were in effect dead. No more mahseer, only catfish, eels and a few species of small hardy carp likely remain- if that. Imagine theeffect this will have in the future. It is becoming more obvious to us the more study is done that many rainforest trees spread their seeds by fish. And fish also provide food to so many forest animals. With the fish gone, how would the already threatened turtle species survive? This totally dashed my plans, so in the hope of a good stream with decent fishing I continued. More rocky streams passed by, but they too were in a terrible state. Eventually I reached the entrance to Maliau Basin. I parked the bike and walked into the information center. Beautiful photographs in the form of dioramas and murals bend around the floor and walls. It is inspiring, and I badly wanted to go into the “Basin”. So I spoke to one of the staff there. He told me I had to book in advance and bring my own food. But to book I would have to go all the way back to Tawau and visit the office there. I reminded him how ridiculous that proposal would be, at two and a half hours drive each way, so he produced a folder showing prices. Well, all I have to say is one day when I’m rich I might return…

A red legged tree frog (left) and a Harlequin flying frog (right).

So I left in my quest to find this ever so elusive patch of forest I could walk into and explore. It was not looking good. Before I left, the man told me I should be able to get fuel in the shop “just up the road.” What he failed to mention was the two hours more it would take to get there! So with a dangerously low tank I skidded, rattled and bumped my way along the dirt road for another hour or so, looking in vain for this shop. The further I went the more buildings and small kampungs I began to see. I asked everyone I managed to get close enough to if they knew where I could get fuel. The response was either a blank, glazed over stare (normal response to an outsider) or the admission that there was only diesel. Severely low on juice now, I was going down a steep hill not much faster than walking pace. The workers had half repaired it (that’s usually good enough) by compacting the gravel. But they left loads of loose gravel all over the surface and the road, although technically wide enough for three trucks by now only had space for one. So I just happened to be meeting a large truck head-on. There was not even a foot either side of it to get around, so I carefully turned the bike to get up on the gravel to let him pass. But the front wheel had other ideas and slipped out on the loose gravel on the hard road as if it were covered in ball bearings. Luckily as the bike fell over it wasn’t damaged, but my skin was not so lucky. Not only my weight but the bike a well pinned me to the road as I slid down the hill for a couple of meters. With a ripped shirt and most of the skin on my forearm badly grazed as well as my right shoulder, knee and leg damaged I picked myself up, the truck driver apologized (what for I don’t know) and I continued. The dust and gravel stung on raw muscle and any time I passed a truck or car more tiny bits of gravel embedded themselves into the wound. I could feel everything! But I still had no fuel. This was a problem, and luckily I found a town.

Kampung Nabawan is where the sealed road resumes as it officially enters the south west coast region. A big sign, much to my relief said “Minyak”. Finally, fuel! As I approached, the tiny wooden shop had a sign out the front. “Minyak Habis!” (finished!) Noooo! Seriously, what now? I asked all the locals I could find, and they said, “Sorry, tiada.”

The word “tiada” is the most frustrating thing about traveling or looking for something- anything in Malaysia. It is a short version of “Tidak ada” which means “no have” and is usually accompanied with what we call the “crazy hand” which is holding the hand up beside the head and twisting it side to side rapidly. You most often hear it in specialty shops that never actually have what they claim to specialize in. For example:

In an outdoor outfitters shop I ask “Do you have waterproofing for shoes”

Them: “Tiada”

In a shoe shop: Do you have shoes over size 12?

Them: “Tiada”

I could go on all day about the many wonders and faces of “tiada” but there is a story to tell. Maybe I’m going off on a tangent because as I write this my eyes are red and I am trying to stay awake to finish it.

Oh, another tangent. Back to the story. I was in dire need of fuel but there was no option other than to press on. It was getting dark so I thought I would get as much distance behind me as I could. The forest had given way to Kabuns (gardens/small plantations) and the road was straight and almost empty of traffic. Eventually I came upon another kampung, so I drove in, and asked a very surprised Catholic family. It just happened that they had a fuel supply and were willing to give me some for cost price. So I put enough in to get me out of trouble. Dried blood, dirt and dust was all over my right arm and leg, they were concerned, but in typical kampung style were mistrusting of outsiders, particularly westerners. They were lovely though and waved me goodbye as I headed for the major town of Keningau, not too far from Kota Kinabalu. Keningau is a major hub for the inland people of Sabah and on a major supply route. It was an easy matter to get a meal. I walked into a shocked restaurant. I was a mess. My face was black from soot and dust while the blood all over my right side was less than appealing. They let me use their bathroom to clean up before dinner.

Keningau is not such a bad place but I was keen to catch up with Angelo in nearby Tambunan. I gave him a quick call and headed over. Tambunan is fifty kilometers from Keningau, and to top it all off the heavens opened and I was soaked. Hard drops of rain hammered my fresh injuries, but it eventually stopped and I reached Angelo’s. With the wounds bandaged, Angelo and I spoke well into the night, but he had to go to Thailand the next day so he left me some keys to access his garden house. I had only been there once before. It is a small farm with a series of commercial fish ponds and some plantations. It is right next to a clean jungle river and the hills all around are still primary mid altitude forest.

I just managed to cross the river in the bike and it rained hard again. I became trapped for three days before I could cross the river again and drive out! It was great to relax and give the wounds a chance to heal, though that would take some time, weeks in fact.

Back on the road, I headed straight for Lahad Datu again on the east coast. After a full day’s drive I was there again. All that distance and still no suitable forest. Where did it all go? I think about it and feel down. These things that I really need to see, and we should all see are vanishing so fast they will be gone before we know it. Soon the lowland jungles and clear rivers will be a memory at the rate we are going.

Back in Lahad Datu I stayed with Angelo’s sister Mariana and her husband Alex. Like Angelo they are wonderfully warm and welcoming people and still great friends of mine. While I was recovering and growing my skin back I was at the house far more than I had anticipated. It was a time of many laughs, but I was getting stir crazy. The most promising tract of lowland jungle yet was only 2km away, so I started with a series of night excursions around the fringes. I found so many kinds of frog, many new to me plus a few favorites already familiar- the flying frogs. I also headed up a small stream and heard a strange call. <CLICK HERE TO PLAY…>

The mystery. If not Ingerana sariba, then maybe new!

I had never heard it or anything similar. It was a long way off though, I had no idea how I would go about tracking it. Then I realized it was coming from my feet. No more than a foot away were two male frogs having a “sing-off” over who owned the territory- in this case a boulder. I didn’t want to interrupt their Froggy Idol so I carefully recorded the call and took a picture of one of them. I knew right away it was an Ingerana but carelessly assumed it was the common species of the west coast. I was excited at the time as the Ingerana species of Borneo are very poorly known and any information on breeding, including calls might be a first. I may have the first call record ever for this frog! (Later, herpetologist Alexander Haas informed me it may be a new species altogether. But we won’t know until a specimen is caught and taken to a lab…)

Other things I saw of interest were all six of Borneo’s hornbill species, some elephants at a distance and lots of cool birds.

One frog in particular was on my hit list at the very top. Apparently common throughout Borneo, I had turned up no trace of it at all. It is the cinnamon frog (Nyctixalus pictus – literally “painted night hopper”) and it breeds in tree hollows, known as Phytothelms. I heard it one day, a tiny weak call in the distance <CLICK TO PLAY> and tracked it down. In a shrub above a discarded truck tyre it sat and sang away, stopping as soon as I saw it. I had waited so long and was not at all disappointed. The frog is every bit as beautiful as in the picture. Gorgeous… for a frog.

The stunning cinnamon frog is hard to find until you know its weak, insect like call

Blue spotted tree frogs are uncommon inhabitants of lowland streams

Also vying for top position was the little known blue spotted tree frog (Rhacophorus cyanopunctuatus – literally “blue spotted rag-bearer!”) On the same stream I found the Ingerana frog, I found my first two of these as well! It just went on and on with the frogs. I now have nearly 80 species for Borneo alone!

But I had to complete my mission to get into the forest alone and spend some time there. This was slowed down greatly by the injuries that still were a long way off healing. The day came for me to go for it and I enlisted a local from the kampung to drive me out to a drop-off point where I could slip into the forest unnoticed. I did not want curious locals following, or “bad boys” (thieves that kill for fun and profit) coming into look for me, nor did I want the government knowing as they love to charge excessive fees and demand guides, travel only on set paths etc etc etc… I didn’t want or need any of that so I arrived at the drop-off only to find the anti-poaching squad was there. Long story short they carry assault rifles and stop people going into the forest. I snuck past them and found my way in. The rest is explained on the videos. Enjoy.


I know I talk a bit at first on part I, but I felt the need to do so this time. Normally I wouldn’t. Wait till you see the “cute and cuddlies” toward the end!