Our fire department called me Tuesday morning to report they had caught a baby krait, and would I like to take it off their hands? "Is a frog's ass watertight?", I replied, and down I went to the station to pick up the most adorable little Bungarus m. multicinctus
I've ever seen, temporarily housed in an appropriately cute little candy jar.
But that was pretty much where the fun ended. When I took the animal into the woods for pictures the next morning, it turned out to be one of the worst snakes I've ever had the misfortune to photograph. Due to its scary toxicity (this tiny, barely ten inch long specimen was about the same size as the one that killed Joe Slowinski with a single fang), the usual rules of "grab fleeing snake/cover with hat/wait 60 seconds/lift hat/shoot/grab fleeing snake again" didn't apply. Being alone, apart from handling the camera I had to control the bugger with a snake hook and a small cooking pot (as a cooldown cave), neither of which he fancied at all. Kraits are 100% terrestrial snakes and notorious for not staying on the hook, and covering him with the pot didn't calm him down as hoped, either - no matter how long I waited, as soon as I lifted the pot, the beast shot out like a snake possessed and scrambled for cover. I was standing inside a ditch, trying to photograph the snake on the shoulder, but there was too much vegetation, and the krait invariably ended up either under a leafy vegetable or a small rock. Then I changed my strategy and moved him to the bottom of the ditch. This sorta worked for a while, but then the bastard started finding holes in the ground. The sun was climbing, there was no shade, and I still had a three-hour walk ahead of me, so eventually I just threw my hands in the air and released the little juvenile delinquent. Of 134 photos in toto, the handful presented here were the ONLY ONES useful enough to at least be considered of documentary value....
This is the plastic dried-fruit jar the fire department used to store the krait, and what an suitable container for snakes it is. "Squeez'n'Bites"? Sounds like the perfect housing for constrictors and vipers alike!
The Chinese on the jar says "Mr. Liang wants this", Mr. Liang being my Chinese family name. All Chinese dealing with Westerners give themselves Western first names (Frank, Pierre, Helmut etc.), because most of the foreign barbarians they meet have no idea about the different tones in the Chinese language and will invariably mispronounce Chinese names, turning "Morning Chrysanthemum" into "Monkey Dung" or worse. For the same reason, Westerners in the Chinese-speaking world pick Chinese names for themselves, because who wants to hear his name being mangled thirty times a day?
You might wonder about the skull under the jar. Well, so did I. When I put the jar there to photograph it, I looked for a rock to place underneath and level it. I grabbed the first rock I saw and was highly surprised when I realized it wasn't a rock at all, but the bleached skull of some small mammal! (most likely a ferret badger)
Note the army of parasol-wielding lady hikers in the back. Thirty seconds after this picture was taken, they were standing in front of me, ooh-ing and aah-ing about the pretty little snake. When I told them what species it was, I was treated to the marvelous spectacle of the whole gang simultaneously jumping three feet backwards. The Chinese sure fear their "umbrella snake"....