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 Post subject: An Indian Cobra in the Taiwanese Woods (Massive DUW!)
PostPosted: July 30th, 2010, 3:30 am 
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Joined: June 8th, 2010, 2:19 am
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Location: Kuching, Sarawak (Borneo)
The other day I received a call from one of the local fire departments; they had another snake for me - a cobra this time. Few things make my day like cobras do, so I drove down to the station full of cheer, humming a corny show tune, and generally in love with the whole world. Arriving at the station, I found my expectations bizarrely surpassed by reality. The fire chief handed me the cage with the words "That ain't no local snake", and one look through the mesh confirmed his judgment. Instead of a chunky, black Chinese cobra (Naja atra) with block-shaped hood markings, I was looking at a slender, brown snake with an lyre-shaped design on the hood. Now, I'm no cobra expert by any stretch, but from everything I've seen in books and online, this thing looked to me like an Indian cobra (Naja naja). (Please correct me if I'm wrong!). The fire department had removed it from somebody's garden by the seaside and figured that it had been a captive animal which had either escaped or been set free.

Well, Chinese or Indian, cobras are always a reason for a party, so I loaded a few fellow ophidiomaniacs plus the kids in the van and drove into the mountains to find a relatively peaceful and cool spot for a photo/video session, the results of which you see here. After we were done, we gave the animal to a friend of ours. He has what I believe to be the largest collection of venomous snakes in Taiwan, and this critter will join the other 38 cobras in his care.

Addendum I: The video camera on the tongs is Mr. Onionsack's invention and allows him to get up close and personal with dangerous critters. You can do it at home, too: just wrap your camera's strap around the jaws the way it's shown in the photos. In the last two pictures showing the camera, the snake found the device too close and attacked it. Onionsack is going to show the footage here after he's done editing.

Addendum II: Can N. atra and N. naja cross-breed? I'm just wondering about the possible ramifications if the snake had stayed free to roam in the woods here....

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 Post subject: Re: An Indian Cobra in the Taiwanese Woods (Massive DUW!)
PostPosted: July 30th, 2010, 5:28 am 
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Joined: June 7th, 2010, 7:05 am
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Location: Albuquerque
very nice Hans! Cobras are so awesome!

Josh


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 Post subject: Re: An Indian Cobra in the Taiwanese Woods (Massive DUW!)
PostPosted: July 30th, 2010, 7:08 am 
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Joined: June 7th, 2010, 5:46 am
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Very cool !
Thanks for sharing


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 Post subject: Re: An Indian Cobra in the Taiwanese Woods (Massive DUW!)
PostPosted: July 30th, 2010, 7:34 am 

Joined: July 26th, 2010, 12:26 pm
Posts: 272
Location: South Carolina
Great photos! Where can we go to see the video?


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 Post subject: Re: An Indian Cobra in the Taiwanese Woods (Massive DUW!)
PostPosted: July 30th, 2010, 7:46 am 
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Joined: July 8th, 2010, 10:14 am
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Location: Eastern Washington
Nice one.

Couple Questions:

How old are your Boys?

I really know next to nothing about cobras, but is it possible that that cobra is found naturally in your area and it's just not very common?


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 Post subject: Re: An Indian Cobra in the Taiwanese Woods (Massive DUW!)
PostPosted: July 30th, 2010, 8:27 am 

Joined: June 7th, 2010, 5:32 am
Posts: 240
Hi Hans,

That is a standard, if rather underfed-looking Naja atra, not a Naja naja nor a naja x atra hybrid. That particular hood marking is not all that rare in N. atra (at least not in many parts of the Chinese mainland - see http://www.bangor.ac.uk/~bss166/Taxa/Naja_atra.htm for a photo of a specimen from near Hong Kong), the body pattern is standard atra, as is the throat pattern, and all are quite different from N. naja, and it seems to have only 25 or *possibly* 27 scale rows around the hood, which, in combination with the very contrasting hood mark, excludes N. naja.

It may of course originate from a different part of Taiwan or perhaps even from mainland China (is there much trade in wildlife between you renegades and the PRC? ;) ), or just be a bit aberrant for your location, and hence unfamiliar-looking, but it is defintiely N. atra.

Love the video set-up - look forward to seeing the finished product!


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 Post subject: Re: An Indian Cobra in the Taiwanese Woods (Massive DUW!)
PostPosted: July 30th, 2010, 7:04 pm 
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Joined: June 7th, 2010, 4:14 pm
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Location: Asheville NC
Awesome pics, again. What I would do to get that phone call from local fire dept :mrgreen:


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 Post subject: Re: An Indian Cobra in the Taiwanese Woods (Massive DUW!)
PostPosted: July 31st, 2010, 5:29 pm 
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Joined: June 8th, 2010, 2:19 am
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Location: Kuching, Sarawak (Borneo)
Thanks for the nice comments!

Thank you in particular, Wolfgang! I've seen a lot of pictures of Taiwanese Naja atra, but never one with hood marks like this, hence my enthusiastic, albeit quite amateurish, mis-identification.

My boys are nine and eleven, respectively.

Quote:
is it possible that that cobra is found naturally in your area and it's just not very common?

What Wolfgang said... :D


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 Post subject: Re: An Indian Cobra in the Taiwanese Woods (Massive DUW!)
PostPosted: July 31st, 2010, 5:47 pm 
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Joined: June 7th, 2010, 1:07 pm
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Location: New Jersey
nice photos :thumb: gorgeous snake!!!


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 Post subject: Re: An Indian Cobra in the Taiwanese Woods (Massive DUW!)
PostPosted: August 1st, 2010, 5:01 pm 

Joined: June 8th, 2010, 1:36 am
Posts: 8
dthor68 wrote:
Great photos! Where can we go to see the video?


Here is a link to some video of the snake. Truly a shame the tongs snapped in half before we could get much video of the animal but you certainly get an idea of the speed and ferocity of a Naja atra strike. :shock:


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 Post subject: Re: An Indian Cobra in the Taiwanese Woods (Massive DUW!)
PostPosted: August 1st, 2010, 5:15 pm 

Joined: June 7th, 2010, 8:52 pm
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Location: Amarillo, Texas
Quote:
"That ain't no local snake


wait, when did you go from Taiwan to Texas in this adventure? :lol:


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 Post subject: Re: An Indian Cobra in the Taiwanese Woods (Massive DUW!)
PostPosted: August 1st, 2010, 8:21 pm 
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Paul White wrote:
Quote:
"That ain't no local snake


wait, when did you go from Taiwan to Texas in this adventure? :lol:

Close. That was a direct rendering of the guy's Taiwanese working class-accented Mandarin.


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 Post subject: Re: An Indian Cobra in the Taiwanese Woods (Massive DUW!)
PostPosted: August 1st, 2010, 11:06 pm 

Joined: June 7th, 2010, 5:32 am
Posts: 240
Very cool indeed! You have just made me pack a set of tongs to take on my forthcoming AZ trip - I wasn't going to take them since I don't use them for catching rattlers, but I will now use them to get video footage!


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 Post subject: Re: An Indian Cobra in the Taiwanese Woods (Massive DUW!)
PostPosted: August 2nd, 2010, 3:14 am 
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Location: Kuching, Sarawak (Borneo)
WW** wrote:
Very cool indeed! You have just made me pack a set of tongs to take on my forthcoming AZ trip - I wasn't going to take them since I don't use them for catching rattlers, but I will now use them to get video footage!

Looking forward to the footage!


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 Post subject: Re: An Indian Cobra in the Taiwanese Woods (Massive DUW!)
PostPosted: August 3rd, 2010, 1:20 am 
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Joined: June 22nd, 2010, 9:48 pm
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Really cool photos and footage. I wish the wild cobras I've seen had sat so cooperatively for photos, they always seem to be far more preoccupied with escaping than with defensive displays.


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 Post subject: Re: An Indian Cobra in the Taiwanese Woods (Massive DUW!)
PostPosted: August 3rd, 2010, 2:16 am 
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Location: Kuching, Sarawak (Borneo)
Mr Jackson

what species did you find in the wild? To my extremely limited experience (four encounters), they all want to escape first.....only when they're tired, they sit down and hood up.


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 Post subject: Re: An Indian Cobra in the Taiwanese Woods (Massive DUW!)
PostPosted: August 3rd, 2010, 3:07 am 
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Joined: June 22nd, 2010, 9:48 pm
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I've seen a few N. kaouthia, but most of my experience with wild cobras has been with N. sumatrana. I've never had them sit stationary (strikes not withstanding) and hood for that amount of time but you're right, once they realise they can't escape they do attempt to bluff (and spit in the case of N. sumatrana) their way out of trouble.


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 Post subject: Re: An Indian Cobra in the Taiwanese Woods (Massive DUW!)
PostPosted: August 3rd, 2010, 3:47 am 
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Location: Kuching, Sarawak (Borneo)
I might have to get back to you for pointers about photographing N. sumatrana, as that's one of the two cobra species in Sarawak (the other being O. hannah). Photographing spitters must be exciting...even with my 70-300 mm zoom.


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 Post subject: Re: An Indian Cobra in the Taiwanese Woods (Massive DUW!)
PostPosted: August 3rd, 2010, 4:20 pm 
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My primary tip would be "keep your mouth shut". I always wear goggles when dealing with spitters, but I once had a large N. sumatrana spit directly into my mouth - apparently it was trying to stem the flow of verbal diarrhea emanating from that orifice.

I've seen Ophiophagus too, but they're a different kettle of fish again. I have never had so much fun with snakes as I have "playing" with juvenile kings - the adults are a little scarier though!


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 Post subject: Re: An Indian Cobra in the Taiwanese Woods (Massive DUW!)
PostPosted: August 3rd, 2010, 5:21 pm 
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Location: Kuching, Sarawak (Borneo)
TNWJackson wrote:
My primary tip would be "keep your mouth shut". I always wear goggles when dealing with spitters, but I once had a large N. sumatrana spit directly into my mouth - apparently it was trying to stem the flow of verbal diarrhea emanating from that orifice.

:shock: :shock: :shock:

Quote:
I have never had so much fun with snakes as I have "playing" with juvenile kings

How is that?


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 Post subject: Re: An Indian Cobra in the Taiwanese Woods (Massive DUW!)
PostPosted: August 3rd, 2010, 7:14 pm 
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Joined: July 22nd, 2010, 12:15 am
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Location: Yuen Long, NT Hong Kong
A fantastic report, Hans. I am a bit disappointed that I wasn't able to go herping with you and Mr. Onionsack during my visit to Taiwan last month. I will definitely try to get over before the end of the year and hopefully we can plan an outing up to Yangmingshan or Baling.


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 Post subject: Re: An Indian Cobra in the Taiwanese Woods (Massive DUW!)
PostPosted: August 3rd, 2010, 10:41 pm 
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Joined: June 8th, 2010, 2:19 am
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Location: Kuching, Sarawak (Borneo)
Thanks, kkchome, and welcome to the forum! Here's hoping you will regal us with lots of pix and stories from your herping adventures in Hong Kong, a place with an enormously varied herpetofauna that includes King cobras, pythons and all sorts of other fantastic goodies. (Yes, that's right - Hong Kong).

Hope to see you in Taiwan soon!


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 Post subject: Re: An Indian Cobra in the Taiwanese Woods (Massive DUW!)
PostPosted: October 9th, 2010, 11:11 am 
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Joined: June 9th, 2010, 6:17 am
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ahhh found the avatar post :-)


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 Post subject: Re: An Indian Cobra in the Taiwanese Woods (Massive DUW!)
PostPosted: October 9th, 2010, 11:31 am 
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Joined: June 7th, 2010, 6:45 am
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Location: One of the boys from Illinois
Thanks for pulling this one up, Warren! Brilliant stuff. I'm gonna hafta try that tong-cam technique with a bushmaster sometime.

-Mike


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