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 Post subject: Borneo Dispatches #60: Seven Snake Adventures
PostPosted: November 27th, 2012, 7:37 am 
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Joined: June 8th, 2010, 2:19 am
Posts: 3179
Location: Kuching, Sarawak (Borneo)
I've been busy with work, yet another house guest (old college buddy), herping and occasionally working with folks from the herp department at the local university (UNIMAS) under the tutelage of Indraneil Das, as well as stumbling over snakes in the weirdest places. And today is my birthday, so I thought I'd take the liberty to produce a huge, but completely anarchistic post with unrelated and unsorted photos of seven of the snakes we've found over the past three weeks or so, without much coherent narrative. Just the pix, Ma'am.

1. Bornean Keel-backed Pitviper, Tropidolaemus subannulatus. This is the biggest I've seen so far (well, there was another large one a few months ago, but 20 feet away from me on a mangrove tree) My aforementioned house guest almost trod on it when we were coming back down the Tanjung Sapi trail in Bako National Park, and now he's convinced the Bornean woods are full of venomous vermin with his name etched on their scales. No matter how hard I try, he just won't believe that this was a one-in-ten-thousand encounter (maybe because we've already found six snakes in the five days he's been here :-))
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2. Brown Wolfsnake. Lycodon effraensis. This one was found on my first road hunting trip ever with Indraneil (Neil) Das, in mid-November. I wanted to show him snakes so badly, and boy, did I get more than I had bargained for. During a little show-and-tell for Neil's young son, this little %$#@ wolfsnake fell off the hook in the middle of the road, rushed straight over to my sandal-clad right foot and not only bit, but also held on to my pinky toe with such intensity that although Neil's son was present, I had a %$#@ hard time keeping my verbal output on a family-friendly level. Instead of helping me, Neil danced around the carnage, filming the entire bloodletting in all gory detail, grinning and giggling like a schoolboy, and topping the humiliation with the question "Are you sure it's just a wolfsnake? Heheheee.....". And it WAS funny. The video is a milestone of classic herping comedy, but after a few days of contemplation I've decided not to put it online, since there are too many things less kindly-minded folks might latch onto, starting with the decidedly Asian footwear (sandals, flip-flops, nightmarket copy Crocs) almost all of us were sporting. Oh well. Their loss :-)
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3. Sumatran Cobra, Naja sumatrana. This was the second snake we found that night, and again, Neil filmed very nice footage of us playing with the snake. THis time I didn't get bitten, but my Tevas were four feet from the cobra, forbidding publication of the video for the above-mentioned reasons. This is a very difficult species to photograph: it takes ages to calm down, and when it finally does, it doesn't hood up like most other Asian cobras, but lies flat on the ground. Since it's capable of spitting venom (although not as far or as accurate as African spitters), I was too tired to go through all that rigmarole, so I just took a few voucher shots. The next cobra will certainly materialize soon - after all, we all got them in the ditches around our houses.
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"Installation with Cobra and Malfunctioning Flashlight"; Hans Breuer, 2012 (MOMA, New York)
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4. Dog-toothed Cat Snake, Boiga cynodon. The third snake we cruised with Neil was this eight-footer. While I was holding it in my hand (thank Jove for cheap Chinese welding gloves!), the snake began to work its considerable dentures all over the glove, and we later reconstructed the scene in daylight.
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5. Two Sunbeam Snakes, Xenopeltis unicolor, found crossing the road within 50 yards distance from one another. Juveniles (a subadult in this case) have white heads.
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Doc Das, gathering material for his next field guide in my dining room :-)
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6. Neonate Sabah Green Pitviper, Popeia sabahi. Boy, that thing was tiny. And the chap who had found it had to scrabble all the way to the top of a 4000-foot tall hill covered in steep cloud forest. Good thing I only had to drive to his office to take these pix...better him than me :-)
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 Post subject: Re: Borneo Dispatches #60: Seven Snake Adventures
PostPosted: November 27th, 2012, 8:57 am 

Joined: November 4th, 2010, 2:43 pm
Posts: 546
That can't be real.


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 Post subject: Re: Borneo Dispatches #60: Seven Snake Adventures
PostPosted: November 27th, 2012, 11:31 am 
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Joined: September 14th, 2012, 8:43 am
Posts: 1036
Location: Boston area, MA
Hans, you have, in a very short amount of time, showed me so much and possibly have started an *obsession* with the snakes of Borneo.

And this:

Quote:
1. Bornean Keel-backed Pitviper, Tropidolaemus subannulatus.


May just be one of the most beautiful things I have ever seen.

Can I just install a permanent slideshow of your photos into my brain?


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 Post subject: Re: Borneo Dispatches #60: Seven Snake Adventures
PostPosted: November 27th, 2012, 11:49 am 
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Joined: October 1st, 2011, 11:01 am
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Love your viper, elapid and sunbeam pics, but my favorite is that dogtoothed cat biting your glove. :lol:


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 Post subject: Re: Borneo Dispatches #60: Seven Snake Adventures
PostPosted: November 27th, 2012, 12:06 pm 
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Joined: June 8th, 2010, 11:24 pm
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Location: Sweden
One of the bests posts on FHF so far.
Stunning photos of beautiful snakes!

Thanks for sharing!


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 Post subject: Re: Borneo Dispatches #60: Seven Snake Adventures
PostPosted: November 27th, 2012, 5:58 pm 
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Joined: September 27th, 2011, 9:12 am
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Location: Singapore
Great post and some nice finds Hans. Hopefully 2013 works out and a few of us can head that way.


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 Post subject: Re: Borneo Dispatches #60: Seven Snake Adventures
PostPosted: November 27th, 2012, 6:11 pm 
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Joined: October 1st, 2011, 11:01 am
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Noel Thomas wrote:
Great post and some nice finds Hans. Hopefully 2013 works out and a few of us can head that way.

About next year, I can't wait to see more posts like these. Hopefully newyears' day. :lol:


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 Post subject: Re: Borneo Dispatches #60: Seven Snake Adventures
PostPosted: November 27th, 2012, 6:13 pm 
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Joined: June 8th, 2010, 3:39 pm
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Location: Concord TWP, Ohio
Hans, awesome as ever! That keel-backed viper is stunning!!!


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 Post subject: Re: Borneo Dispatches #60: Seven Snake Adventures
PostPosted: November 28th, 2012, 1:14 am 
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Joined: June 8th, 2010, 2:19 am
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Location: Kuching, Sarawak (Borneo)
Thanks very much for the kind reception, everyone!

Quote:
That can't be real.

Exactly my feeling :-)


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 Post subject: Re: Borneo Dispatches #60: Seven Snake Adventures
PostPosted: November 28th, 2012, 1:17 am 
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Joined: June 7th, 2010, 2:00 pm
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Location: Huntsville, AL
it's been said plenty, but that viper is incredible!

I also really love that wolf snake


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 Post subject: Re: Borneo Dispatches #60: Seven Snake Adventures
PostPosted: November 28th, 2012, 5:43 am 

Joined: April 23rd, 2011, 6:49 pm
Posts: 258
This post was particularly entertaining. The vipers were gorgeous. The Boiga biting your glove in every other picture, hilarious!


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 Post subject: Re: Borneo Dispatches #60: Seven Snake Adventures
PostPosted: November 28th, 2012, 5:49 am 
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Joined: June 7th, 2010, 7:31 am
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Location: A bunker near Mountainburg AR
Seems so redundant, but here goes... "Awesome post Hans!"


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 Post subject: Re: Borneo Dispatches #60: Seven Snake Adventures
PostPosted: November 28th, 2012, 6:25 am 
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Joined: June 12th, 2010, 9:28 am
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Location: Monterey Peninsula, CA
Happy (now slightly belated) Birthday, Hans! I celebrated your birthday by nearly finishing A Cobra Hijacked My Camera Bag -- I had to stop myself from entirely finishing it because it would be too sad if I didn't have some more to read today. But what will I do tomorrow? Damn!

Maybe I can slow myself down for another day by rereading your Borneo posts, hmm...

John


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 Post subject: Re: Borneo Dispatches #60: Seven Snake Adventures
PostPosted: November 29th, 2012, 12:12 am 
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Joined: June 8th, 2010, 2:19 am
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Location: Kuching, Sarawak (Borneo)
Thank you very much for the kudos and the bday wishes, guys! John, thank you also for reading my book! May I suggest that today you could while away the time by coming up with a structure for my Borneo book....I've promised myself not to jump the gun and wait for a total of three years until I have enough material....but I have enough material already! Maybe I'll create a series? And it won't be just about snakes - Borneo is way too interesting for that - so how to structure it? By life form families? By areas? Chronologically? So many choices....

Hans, musingly


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 Post subject: Re: Borneo Dispatches #60: Seven Snake Adventures
PostPosted: November 29th, 2012, 2:00 am 
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Joined: June 8th, 2010, 1:15 am
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Location: Austin, TX
Fantastic post and pics, Hans. And Hirpy Bathday, too!


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 Post subject: Re: Borneo Dispatches #60: Seven Snake Adventures
PostPosted: November 29th, 2012, 10:56 am 
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Love that sunbeam! Boiga looks mean!


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 Post subject: Re: Borneo Dispatches #60: Seven Snake Adventures
PostPosted: November 29th, 2012, 4:37 pm 
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Joined: June 12th, 2010, 9:28 am
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Hans Breuer (twoton) wrote:
Thank you very much for the kudos and the bday wishes, guys! John, thank you also for reading my book! May I suggest that today you could while away the time by coming up with a structure for my Borneo book....I've promised myself not to jump the gun and wait for a total of three years until I have enough material....but I have enough material already! Maybe I'll create a series? And it won't be just about snakes - Borneo is way too interesting for that - so how to structure it? By life form families? By areas? Chronologically? So many choices....

Hans, musingly


I have been pondering this question a little. Here are some random thoughts:

A chronological structure isn't inherently interesting, unless there's some reasonably strong through-line narrative. If the book were primarily about the people, and not just the people but some long-term story arcs involving the people, then the chronological structure might be best. Otherwise I wouldn't think it the best approach. ("My Family and Other Animals" is essentially chronological, but it does contain various long-term story arcs.)

Structuring by life form groups as in "A Cobra Hijacked My Camera Bag!" is certainly viable. It has a potential drawback of putting all of the "best stuff" for any given reader together though. For instance, if a particular reader were really into, say, insects, and all of the insect material was grouped together in a section at, say, the beginning of the book, then that reader could conceivably consider the rest of the book as anticlimactic. Whereas if the insect material were sprinkled throughout the book, that strangely insectophilic reader might enjoy the entire book a little more, knowing that more entomological entertainment could be upcoming at any time.

Structuring by area seems like a potentially nice compromise, assuming there are an appropriate number of areas with significantly different character. And of course within each area you could still choose to structure chronologically or by life form group.

But of course my thoughts on these matters are worth pretty much nothing. Your writing is so entertaining that I'm sure any of these approaches would make for another great book.

John


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 Post subject: Re: Borneo Dispatches #60: Seven Snake Adventures
PostPosted: November 29th, 2012, 5:02 pm 
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Joined: June 8th, 2010, 1:15 am
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Location: Austin, TX
You know, I really prefer as little "structure" as possible. I've always enjoyed the way Dick Bartlett and Paul Freed set up their books, for example.....just a series of short-to-medium length vignettes, any of which would work well as a standalone piece in its own right. Most pieced generally focus on a particular "goal" species and in the case of the Borneo book, could - and should - also be interspersed with chapters that aren't even about the quest for herps. They could include pieces on Borneo's physical features as well as on its human denizens and on non-herp encounters (birds, inverts, plants, etc). Personally, I greatly enjoy Hans' writing, whatever the subject, just as I enjoy Kevin Messenger's posts, for instance, even when they aren't focused on herps and herping.

My one minor disappointment with the first book on Taiwan - and to call it a disappointment would be a gross overstatement - was the shortage of photos, especially given Hans' obvious skills in that arena. I'm guessing that the paucity of photographs was probably a financial consideration, and I thoroughly enjoyed the photos he was able to include. Maybe the Taiwan book will be such a rip-roaring success that the publisher will be begging for tons of photos!


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 Post subject: Re: Borneo Dispatches #60: Seven Snake Adventures
PostPosted: November 30th, 2012, 10:58 am 
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Location: OKlahoma
Enjoy the sunbeam so much! 大爱闪鳞蛇 :D


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 Post subject: Re: Borneo Dispatches #60: Seven Snake Adventures
PostPosted: December 3rd, 2012, 2:01 am 
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Joined: June 8th, 2010, 2:19 am
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Location: Kuching, Sarawak (Borneo)
Thanks very much, and special thanks to you, Mark and John, for your interesting input. I've opened a hold-all file just for things like these. At the moment, I think I would like to partition the book in stories - stories that are not necessarily linked, but each with the potential to explain and expound on related matters. For example, the story how we roadcruised the huge orang-utan could be a platform to write about the plight of the red apes in Borneo, and maybe include other orang encounters we've had. Or the story how the kitchen staff at Sarawak's most exclusive golf resort presented me with a gorgeous Boiga jaspidia they had found in the kitchen (just yesterday). This story could lead to more stories about the resort, which we visit quite often, not for golfing, but for hikes in the beautiful montane cloud forest that surrounds it. And poof! I have a chapter about Borneo's mountain regions...

Thanks again!

PS: @ Keeper: 闪鳞蛇 = what a cool name ("flashing scale snake")


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 Post subject: Re: Borneo Dispatches #60: Seven Snake Adventures
PostPosted: December 3rd, 2012, 6:16 am 
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That sounds great, Hans -- can't wait to read it!

John


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 Post subject: Re: Borneo Dispatches #60: Seven Snake Adventures
PostPosted: December 4th, 2012, 7:03 am 
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Joined: October 18th, 2011, 12:03 pm
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Location: San Francisco, California
I dont know how this post got past me. I just woke up and went out to smoke a cigarette and look at the sky. The moon looks like a half melted mint. Then I came back and looked at the forum again.

You have enriched my life Hans and fueled my imagination. Im like a child when I see your posts, I imagine being with you and tagging along and that you are welcoming and kind to me. I cant help it, you foster such and I thank you for these warm presentations of glorious serpents.


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 Post subject: Re: Borneo Dispatches #60: Seven Snake Adventures
PostPosted: December 4th, 2012, 6:57 pm 
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Joined: June 22nd, 2010, 9:48 pm
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Great post Hans. I haven't visited the forum in quite a while but it's comforting to know that some things never change and that whenever I do you will be posting a serious of lovely photos of amazing Bornean snakes. I'm particularly fond of the shot of the L . effraensis ventral surface in this post.


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