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 Post subject: P. pulverulentus - (Wannabe) Badass Ruler of the Sands
PostPosted: September 7th, 2010, 4:18 am 
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Joined: June 8th, 2010, 2:19 am
Posts: 3179
Location: Kuching, Sarawak (Borneo)
"Though I walk through the Valley of the Shadow of Death, I shall fear no evil, for I am the baddest motherf*cker in the valley"
(Staff Sergeant Sykes, Jarhead)

That's most likely the notion little Psammodynastes pulverulentus would like to convey, and the English-speaking world has indeed rewarded it with the common name "Mock Viper". Well, it looks like a viper, and tries to act like one, too, but at the end of the day this snake is all hat and no cattle. Snakesoftaiwan.com reports "It is an irritable species that will form defensive coils and strike in viper-like fashion when threatened. Its bite is strong and the animal will clamp down hard when biting", but what do those guys know? While most Tea-Stripe Snakes (as the Chinese sensibly call the species) do initially display the whole smoke & mirror bit, they all will calm down very quickly and do not mind being picked up by hand and played with at all.

P. pulverulentus tries to back up the show with a touch of venom, as this is a rear-fanged species, but "...as with most other rear-fanged species, not much is known about the Mock Viper's venom. There are no reports of deaths or severe bites, but there may be swelling, redness and aching muscles in the bite area."(ibid.) I personally haven't heard of anyone displaying these symptoms, however "the venom might contain some kind of anti-coagulant, because the bite wounds tend to bleed profusely."(ibid.) That's a neat trick, I have to admit, but the same goes for most Kukri snakes (Oligodon sp.), and it doesn't make them real vipers either.

P. pulverulentus is widely distributed throughout Asia and "displays a very broad coloration range; some individuals are very dark chocolate-colored, others are reddish-brown, gray, yellow, or almost black. Some have hardly any head or body patterns, while others specimens show small spots or stripes."(ibid.) The subspecies P. p. papenfussi shown here is endemic to Taiwan and usually sand-yellow or yellowish-grey, with few body patterns.

The genus name is a result of one of the many nomenclatural confusions in Victorian times: " (It) is derived from the Greek psammos = sand, and dynastes = ruler. These snakes, which do not live in sandy countries, were first placed in the genus Psammophis, a group living mainly in sandy, arid areas that could account for the unsuitable first part of the present name." (A Field Guide to the Snakes of Borneo, Stuebing & Inger, 1999).

OK, class is over - you can go now and play with your real snakes :-)

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Ventral shot
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Uncle Twoton and his Merry Band of Snakemen (in situ, snake under pot)
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And a Forest Cobra we spotted from afar...
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 Post subject: Re: P. pulverulentus - (Wannabe) Badass Ruler of the Sands
PostPosted: September 7th, 2010, 4:31 am 

Joined: June 7th, 2010, 5:32 am
Posts: 240
A very cool snake, and great photos, Hans.

During one field trip to Thailand, we ended up calling these "Thermodynastes", after a student carelessly placed a DOR specimen on the dashboard, from where it then slid into one of the defroster openings under the windscreen. Thailand being a warm and toasty kind of place (especially when it comes to cars left in the sun), the DOR soon started wreaking its smelly revenge upon the steely vector of Dunlop Disease and its unfortunate occupants.

Ruler of the sand? I dunno. Ruler of the heat? In that case, definitely.

The student's attempts to blame the resulting pong on nearby drains or durian sellers failed, and it fell upon my boss, the one with the most sensitive nose in that car, to dismantle the vehicle's ventilation system while the rest of the team sat in the shade drinking cold Coke and laughing supportively :lol: :lol:

Good times.... (for most of us, anyway)


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 Post subject: Re: P. pulverulentus - (Wannabe) Badass Ruler of the Sands
PostPosted: September 7th, 2010, 4:35 am 
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Joined: June 8th, 2010, 2:19 am
Posts: 3179
Location: Kuching, Sarawak (Borneo)
Beautiful!!! Thanks for sharing!!

Quote:
The student's attempts to blame the resulting pong on nearby drains or durian sellers failed

:thumb: :thumb: :thumb:


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 Post subject: Re: P. pulverulentus - (Wannabe) Badass Ruler of the Sands
PostPosted: September 7th, 2010, 7:26 am 

Joined: June 7th, 2010, 9:07 am
Posts: 117
Location: Syracuse, NY.
It's amazing how they mimic vipers. Those eyes around here would tell ya to stay the hell away. Don't think I've commented on your threads before, but always a pleasure and very informative. I dig it.


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 Post subject: Re: P. pulverulentus - (Wannabe) Badass Ruler of the Sands
PostPosted: September 7th, 2010, 10:49 am 
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Joined: July 16th, 2010, 9:13 am
Posts: 73
Location: East Bay
That is a bad ass snake. That first shot looks mean!
Thanks a lot for that one. :thumb:


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 Post subject: Re: P. pulverulentus - (Wannabe) Badass Ruler of the Sands
PostPosted: September 7th, 2010, 5:28 pm 
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Joined: June 12th, 2010, 3:08 pm
Posts: 403
Location: Pasadena, CA or Mission, TX
Awesome snake! By the way, how many of Taiwan's snakes have you found? You should consider putting all of the species you have found into one big post with lots of narrative and photos. Every post you make is EPIC. One big one would be SUPER EPIC.


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 Post subject: Re: P. pulverulentus - (Wannabe) Badass Ruler of the Sands
PostPosted: September 7th, 2010, 5:56 pm 
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Joined: June 7th, 2010, 6:45 am
Posts: 1472
Location: One of the boys from Illinois
That's an awesome little snake - 'Tea Striped Snake' is a great name.

I always get a kick out of the shots featuring your herping posse. Who spotted the roadside cobra?


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 Post subject: Re: P. pulverulentus - (Wannabe) Badass Ruler of the Sands
PostPosted: September 8th, 2010, 3:49 am 
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Joined: June 8th, 2010, 2:19 am
Posts: 3179
Location: Kuching, Sarawak (Borneo)
Thanks for the continued support, everyone! :-)

Quote:
how many of Taiwan's snakes have you found?

Of all 48 terrestrial species, I've seen 36 so far in the wild, plus one sea snake. The others have eluded me so far because they either live exclusively in the South where I hardly ever travel, or are extremely rare. I've seen all those in captivity, though....where they're much less interesting :-)

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Who spotted the roadside cobra?

I did, the night before, walking along that road at 0130 hrs. Scared the crap outta me in the dark :shock:


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 Post subject: Re: P. pulverulentus - (Wannabe) Badass Ruler of the Sands
PostPosted: September 8th, 2010, 6:13 pm 
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Joined: June 9th, 2010, 6:17 am
Posts: 351
If loving this forum is wrong, I don't wanna be right :D


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 Post subject: Re: P. pulverulentus - (Wannabe) Badass Ruler of the Sands
PostPosted: September 8th, 2010, 6:27 pm 
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Joined: June 10th, 2010, 11:17 am
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That... is the coolest thing in the world. My first response was... ok... another exotic viper. That is seriously cool.

Although it is rear fanged... how potent is the venom.


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 Post subject: Re: P. pulverulentus - (Wannabe) Badass Ruler of the Sands
PostPosted: September 9th, 2010, 1:04 am 
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Joined: June 8th, 2010, 2:19 am
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Location: Kuching, Sarawak (Borneo)
-EJ wrote:
how potent is the venom.

Not really, see original post. As far as I remember, not even Bryan Fry thinks these guys are dangerous :-)


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