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)
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.
|| 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 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…