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 Post subject: Snakes On A Plate III: World's Most Beautiful Snake Belly?
PostPosted: August 1st, 2010, 2:57 am 
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Joined: June 8th, 2010, 2:19 am
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Location: Kuching, Sarawak (Borneo)
There are two species of kukri snakes in Taiwan; the endemic Oligodon formosanus, and O. ornatus, whose distribution range includes parts of Mainland China. Here on the island, O. ornatus is as rare as O. formosanus is abundant, and it's categorized as endangered. While its dorsal area might not be much to write home about, its underside is probably among the prettiest snake bellies on the planet. This is only the second time I've found a wild O. ornatus, and the first time I've had the chance to photograph it. I'm a macro enthusiast, so I take most small snakes home to take their pictures with proper gear (macro slider etc.) I know the white dinner plate leaves much room for improvement, and I promise I'll research ways of shooting stuff in more natural-looking surroundings in the future (such as Bill Love's little Natural Photo Stage).

In the West, few people keep or even know about kukri snakes, so here's a bit of info from http://www.snakesoftaiwan.com:

"This cathemeral (diurnal or nocturnal), oviparous snake inhabits mountainous regions or plantations. It preys mainly on reptile eggs; the large, laterally flattened posterior teeth in the upper jaw and the large rostral shield are adapted to cut open and thrust into the eggs.

Kukri snakes derive their name from the above-mentioned blade-like teeth that resemble the famous kukri dagger of Nepal's Gurkha soldiers. In defense, these teeth are used in a slashing manner which can cause gaping wounds that may bleed profusely - probably an effect of the snake's saliva which is rumored to possess anticoagulant qualities.
" [I can attest to this - getting bitten even by the tiny babies (we keep two O. formosanus at home) can be quite a gory affair.]

Snakes that specialize on the eggs of birds usually swallow eggs whole then crush them. Oligodon instead uses enlarged, blade-like rear maxillary teeth to make repeated slashes in the leathery egg shell, inserts its head, and swallows the yolk. The mechanics of cutting involve cycles of extreme displacement of the maxillary bone, whose blade-like teeth are swung in arcs to make ever deeper slashes in the shell until a slit is formed. The cycles during cutting involve protraction, engagement, and retraction of the palatomaxillary arch of one side while the contralateral jaws maintain a continuous hold on the egg surface".

PS: It's always a bit of a chore to coil a snake, lay it on its back, and then keep it there for ventral photographs, but this one was a particularly uncooperative specimen, hence the dearth of pictures of the most interesting part. Here's a much better picture than my meager efforts produced.

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 Post subject: Re: Snakes On A Plate III: World's Most Beautiful Snake Bell
PostPosted: August 1st, 2010, 9:01 am 
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Joined: June 7th, 2010, 3:44 pm
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Location: Ventura, CA
I much prefer the dorsum ...very unusual pattern and subtle hues...to each his own, sigh. Great pics!


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 Post subject: Re: Snakes On A Plate III: World's Most Beautiful Snake Bell
PostPosted: August 1st, 2010, 9:04 am 
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Joined: June 8th, 2010, 5:29 pm
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Location: I love L.A.
Yes, thats a very nice looking belly pattern.


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 Post subject: Re: Snakes On A Plate III: World's Most Beautiful Snake Bell
PostPosted: August 1st, 2010, 9:35 am 

Joined: June 7th, 2010, 12:37 pm
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Location: Ft. Smith, Arkansas
Awesome snake, Hans. Great shots too. Thanks for sharing.


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 Post subject: Re: Snakes On A Plate III: World's Most Beautiful Snake Bell
PostPosted: August 1st, 2010, 10:27 am 
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Joined: June 7th, 2010, 5:59 am
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Location: Philadelphia
Nice snake and a genus I find fascinating. You mentioned you keep them at home - I'm curious about that. What do you feed them? Thanks,
Billy


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 Post subject: Re: Snakes On A Plate III: World's Most Beautiful Snake Bell
PostPosted: August 1st, 2010, 11:31 am 
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Joined: June 7th, 2010, 4:31 pm
Posts: 337
Location: Florida, USA
Nice! Sometimes a piece of plexiglas or glass can be used for belly shots..or any box with a clear bottom. Much easier.
Lots of snakes with drab dorsal coloring have the coolest bellies!
:Mark


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 Post subject: Re: Snakes On A Plate III: World's Most Beautiful Snake Bell
PostPosted: August 1st, 2010, 1:17 pm 
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Joined: June 20th, 2010, 7:17 am
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Location: Kentucky
I really like that snakes belly Hans. Reminds me of a Jackson Pollack painting.

Phil


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 Post subject: Re: Snakes On A Plate III: World's Most Beautiful Snake Bell
PostPosted: August 1st, 2010, 8:23 pm 
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Joined: June 8th, 2010, 2:19 am
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Location: Kuching, Sarawak (Borneo)
Thanks for the kudos, guys!

Billy, I feed them raw, lightly beaten chicken eggs.

Crimson King - thanks for the great tip!!


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 Post subject: Re: Snakes On A Plate III: World's Most Beautiful Snake Bell
PostPosted: August 3rd, 2010, 1:17 am 
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Joined: June 22nd, 2010, 9:48 pm
Posts: 277
Very cool. Oligodon is a fascinating and beautiful genus - Oligodon octolineatus is a personal favourite. The ventral colouration is presumably Batesian mimicry of coral snakes (Calliophis sp.) - some of the kukri snakes will also raise and curl their tails in the many of Calliophis sp. to expose the bright ventral scales.


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 Post subject: Re: Snakes On A Plate III: World's Most Beautiful Snake Bell
PostPosted: August 3rd, 2010, 2:21 am 
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Joined: June 8th, 2010, 2:19 am
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Location: Kuching, Sarawak (Borneo)
TNWJackson wrote:
some of the kukri snakes will also raise and curl their tails in the many of Calliophis sp. to expose the bright ventral scales.

....and pop out their wieners in a ghastly defense display. The first time I saw that I thought it was injured!


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 Post subject: Re: Snakes On A Plate III: World's Most Beautiful Snake Bell
PostPosted: August 3rd, 2010, 3:08 am 
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Joined: June 22nd, 2010, 9:48 pm
Posts: 277
Haha I've never seen that, how bizarre.


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 Post subject: Re: Snakes On A Plate III: World's Most Beautiful Snake Bell
PostPosted: August 3rd, 2010, 3:45 am 
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Joined: June 8th, 2010, 2:19 am
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Location: Kuching, Sarawak (Borneo)
I saw it three times in one night. The first two times I thought I'd injured it with my tongs, but the third time I used a hook, and the phenomenon occurred AGAIN....then I knew I'd been had :-)


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 Post subject: Re: Snakes On A Plate III: World's Most Beautiful Snake Bell
PostPosted: August 3rd, 2010, 9:10 am 
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Joined: June 7th, 2010, 5:43 am
Posts: 200
Location: Chicago
Looks like you still need to teach your kid to NOT eat the snakes... maybe you could bring along some dried meat or fruit or something, he is a growing boy you know. :lol: :lol: :lol:

Great pics of a really cool snake!! Thanks!

Jason


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 Post subject: Re: Snakes On A Plate III: World's Most Beautiful Snake Bell
PostPosted: August 3rd, 2010, 2:38 pm 
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Joined: June 7th, 2010, 10:14 pm
Posts: 3297
Location: San Antonio, TX
Hans,

Gorgeous beast. I've always though Oligodon were underappreciated snakes. Their dorsal patterns are amazing.

Hans Breuer (twoton) wrote:
PS: It's always a bit of a chore to coil a snake, lay it on its back, and then keep it there for ventral photographs, but this one was a particularly uncooperative specimen, hence the dearth of pictures of the most interesting part. Here's a much better picture than my meager efforts produced.


Somewhat Simple Solution: Put them on glass against a white-ish ceiling. Then take a photo from below.


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 Post subject: Re: Snakes On A Plate III: World's Most Beautiful Snake Bell
PostPosted: August 3rd, 2010, 2:49 pm 
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Joined: June 10th, 2010, 3:41 pm
Posts: 568
The belly markings look like it's painted on, wonderful natural art.


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 Post subject: Re: Snakes On A Plate III: World's Most Beautiful Snake Bell
PostPosted: August 4th, 2010, 8:19 am 

Joined: June 7th, 2010, 4:38 pm
Posts: 26
Oligodon are really cool snakes. I found both formosanus and cinerea on Lantau Island, New territories.

Skip Lazell, our expedition leader, mistakenly held one loosely and was repaid for his carelessness with a bite that looked like he had been cut with a straight razor.

Kukri Snakes don't come by their name for nothing!!


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 Post subject: Re: Snakes On A Plate III: World's Most Beautiful Snake Bell
PostPosted: June 20th, 2012, 3:23 pm 

Joined: June 7th, 2010, 4:38 pm
Posts: 26
Freehandling Kukri snakes can result in bites that look like cuts from a razor blade!!

I collected Oligodon cinereus and Oligodon formosanus in the New territories and witnessed first hand the blood letting that occurred!!


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 Post subject: Re: Snakes On A Plate III: World's Most Beautiful Snake Bell
PostPosted: June 20th, 2012, 7:20 pm 
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Joined: June 19th, 2012, 4:35 pm
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Location: Shenandoah Co. Virginia
Beautiful snake - what is their natural diet?


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 Post subject: Re: Snakes On A Plate III: World's Most Beautiful Snake Bell
PostPosted: June 20th, 2012, 7:31 pm 
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Joined: June 8th, 2010, 2:19 am
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Location: Kuching, Sarawak (Borneo)
Reptile eggs (hence the slasher teeth). But they thrive on chicken eggs in captivity.


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 Post subject: Re: Snakes On A Plate III: World's Most Beautiful Snake Bell
PostPosted: June 20th, 2012, 7:40 pm 
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Joined: October 18th, 2011, 12:03 pm
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Location: San Francisco, California
Unique!!


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 Post subject: Re: Snakes On A Plate III: World's Most Beautiful Snake Bell
PostPosted: June 21st, 2012, 7:14 am 

Joined: June 7th, 2010, 12:37 pm
Posts: 1207
Location: Ft. Smith, Arkansas
Very cool, Hans.
I've had a fascination with Oligodon for years, but I've only been able to see one in captivity, ever. They're not too common over here.


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