Herping In An Indian Mangrove Forest (pic heavy)

Dedicated exclusively to field herping.

Moderator: Scott Waters

Post Reply
User avatar
Mirza Shahzad
Posts: 12
Joined: July 22nd, 2019, 8:30 am
Contact:

Herping In An Indian Mangrove Forest (pic heavy)

Post by Mirza Shahzad »

It has been quite slow since the pandemic started, and I have hardly done any serious herping trips. 3 weeks ago, there were reports of the Red Tailed Pit Viper (Trimeresurus erythrurus) being spotted in the mangrove forests 150 km from my place. The species has been photographed only twice previously in my home state, so I decided to try some luck in the swamps. Also looked forward to documenting the general biodiversity of the region, but reptiles were on top of the list. So I called fellow nature enthusiast with a newly found interest in herps, Hemant, and we decided to make the trip the very next day on a bike.

We reached the place late in the morning, and instead of taking the boat ride the normal tourist way, decided to roam around in the mangrove forest on foot. The region has a good population of salties, and some of the largest living crocodilians can be found in the river next to the mangroves.

Image

Image

Image

Image

Image

The forest floor was literally crawling with crabs ! This individual was particularly impressive looking.

Red Fiddler Crab (Uca sp.)
Image

Image

Image

Image

Mudskippers were present near every pool. Watching a fish jump around on land like a frog is really something cool.

Mudskipper (Periophthalmus sp.)
Image

Image

Thorny Orb Weaver Spider (Gasteracantha sp.)
Image

Jewel Beetle carapace
Image

Spotted deer herds frequently crossed our path.
Image

Then we encountered the most dilapidated, termite eaten bridge we have had the terrifying experience of crossing. The shaky structure with a 10ft drop beneath, made cracking noise no matter where you placed your foot.

Image

Hemant, visibly happy at making it to the other end in a single piece !
Image

Hardly did we know that we had to cross 6 similarly worn out structures. One was in such a bad shape, I preferred walking in the sticky muck over the swamp bank.
Image

Despite walking around for 4hrs in the mangrove forest, we didn't see any reptiles or frogs. Then suddenly, Hemant said something was moving in the swamp. But it was gone by the time I reached there, either it was a croc or a huge water monitor.

A few meters ahead we found a severed foot of a water monitor. Makes one wonder what creature could have done such a neat job.

Image

Image

Finally, another 100 meters ahead we found this huge water monitor lying in a shallow pool right next to the path, a couple of meters from us.

Water Monitor (Varanus salvator)
Image

Image

On our way back to the park gate, we saw another large water monitor. But still we had walked around some 12kms without seeing a single snake. We had better hopes for the night. As the park closes after dark, we decided to look around in the habitat surrounding the nearby village. We asked a local guide regarding the spot where a Trimeresurus erythrurus was recently spotted, and decided to investigate the place at night.

Found this large mantis in the guesthouse garden. Have never seen this Genus before, and still don't have an exact id.

Image

Image

We headed out at night, to a spot with some nice vegetation along the roadside.

Night Of The Angry Green Noodles

Soon we found a juvenile vine snake. A beautiful, defensive but quite harmless colubrid. Don't know about elsewhere, but vines in most of India are quite defensive and have some dramatic aggression displays to offer.

Long Nosed Vine Snake (Ahaetulla cf. nasuta)
Image

Image

Image

Image

Image

Image

Image

Image

A few meters ahead we encountered this huge, but very pissed off vine snake.This is the largest I have ever seen, and close to the record size. Sorry for all the handling pics, but couldn't help taking some size reference pics. Donning an industrial glove certainly helped, as just seconds latter it bit over the glove, held on and chewed for a good 10 secs. Not something you would like to experience on your bare hand from a rear fanged colubrid this size.

Image

Image

Image

Image

Image



And after some searching, close to where it was last seen, the top target of the trip : A huge female Red Tailed Pit Viper (Trimeresurus erythrurus).

Image

Image

Image

Image

Image

But from the moment we spotlighted it, it was completely restless and always on the move. It was too difficult to take a decent pic without risking a bite. Although no deaths are on record, the venom is a strong hemotoxic and a bite can cause severe pain and can lead to losing a finger. We decided to track it down in the morning, and take some shots in the daylight.

Next morning, we spent some time photographing a chameleon on a tree close to the resort.

A stunningly patterned Indian Chameleon (Chameleo zeylanica), with the most vivid coloration I have ever seen in the species.
Image

Image

Image

Image

Image

Image

Image

Image

Image

We returned to the spot where we last saw the pit viper at night, and found it on one of the few low trees around.
Now it was a quite relaxed creature, and we managed some nice shots.

Red Tailed Pit Viper (Trimeresurus erythrurus)
Image

Image

Image

Image

Image

Image

Image

Image

Note the strongly prehensile tail coiled into a knot.
Image


With our mission accomplished, we decided to return. On our way back, saw this freak cow in a village near the park gate. A fitting last shot of the trip, rt ?
Image

Thus, within 24hrs, we managed to see find some really amazing herps. We missed out on some Homalopsid snakes, like Cerberus and Fordonia, that are a mangrove forest specialty. But then, always a reason to visit the swamps again !


Cheers!!!
Mirza

User avatar
Ameron
Posts: 60
Joined: June 10th, 2010, 4:57 pm
Location: Portland/Vancouver

Re: Herping In An Indian Mangrove Forest (pic heavy)

Post by Ameron »

I very much enjoyed this visual feast.
Few people get to see a Mangrove Forest, this was a rare opportunity for vicarious exploration.
Great shots and colors, plus the novelty of the "freak" cow. (Poor thing, it never chose to be born into a toxic world.)

It's great to see that this forum lives on, even if posts are less frequent.

My excuse for not posting? I have only a simple digital camera and the Pacific NW has few warm weeks and fewer reptile species.
(No one I know is excited by photos of Garter snakes.)

Keep up the great work!

User avatar
Jeff
Posts: 591
Joined: June 11th, 2010, 5:01 am
Location: Louisiana

Re: Herping In An Indian Mangrove Forest (pic heavy)

Post by Jeff »

Mirza
Thanks very much for this interesting trip. That is amazing footwear, blue and yellow crocs for strolling about the mangroves! The mangroves and root projections, and mud, look like our cypress swamps in Louisiana. Also like Louisiana in summer one doesn't see much until dark. One difference is that in all photos of people, at least two hands are used continually to swat mosquitos and yellow flies, by the person photographed, and by the photographer. To take a photo like the one posted below, requires sacrifice of blood to dozens of dipterous death squads for two seconds.
Keep posting these interesting trips.
No one I know is excited by photos of Garter snakes
Ahem

Jeff

Image
Attachments
P1294.jpg

User avatar
Porter
Posts: 2292
Joined: March 19th, 2011, 6:43 pm

Re: Herping In An Indian Mangrove Forest (pic heavy)

Post by Porter »

I've been trying to think of a joke about that cow with a hoof on his back... For a whole hour, BACK...get it? Maybe I'll get back to this in an hour, BACK get it...!? It could take a few days... a few months... maybe just an HOUR BACK... Get It...?! I'll call ya back in an hour... BACK... get it? It's got a friggin hoof on it's back... It's gonna have to hoof it back to the figgin hunch backs with that bad friggin back. It might take an hour to get BACK...... HOUR BACK, get it? It might be easier to scatch a mosquito off that hunch friggin back, when you got a damn hoof on your BACK... You could scatch for an hour, that BACK, get it...? Well maybe, but I had a hunch. I had a hunch about That friggin hoof back... It'll take two hours to scatch that Bad friggin BACK... or maybe two hooves...

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yJH1KjvCiKI

Mangroves look cool :thumb: I have a new favorite vinesnake. Cool colors and pattern on that thing.

(what nobody knows... I woke up today with a stiff back lol)

User avatar
Chaitanya
Posts: 147
Joined: March 31st, 2013, 4:40 am
Location: Pune(India)
Contact:

Re: Herping In An Indian Mangrove Forest (pic heavy)

Post by Chaitanya »

Ahaetulla nasuta is endemic to Sri Lanka what you found is probably Ahaetulla anomala.

User avatar
Kelly Mc
Posts: 4509
Joined: October 18th, 2011, 12:03 pm

Re: Herping In An Indian Mangrove Forest (pic heavy)

Post by Kelly Mc »

Thank you for all of these shared, I especially appreciate the head study of the vine snake, and the lovely set
of the viper in the branches. They are aesthetically compelling. I realize that is true for all species in my admittedly exuberant opinion, but I do really think they are special.

Years ago a kind of 'mysterious" businessman from Japan wanted to hire me to care for his collection that included these, some other species too, in beautiful walk in enclosures. He also had mountain tortoises in an atrium like scenario. I was tempted to agree but he was so adamant that no one 'follow' me or know what he had that it made me uncomfortable. Apparently he needed to leave the country for stretches of time.

I digress but I always remember that guy and his animals when I see a trimeresurus.

User avatar
Porter
Posts: 2292
Joined: March 19th, 2011, 6:43 pm

Re: Herping In An Indian Mangrove Forest (pic heavy)

Post by Porter »

Kelly’s right, those shots of the Viper are rad :thumb: I also really like the Chamaeleon photography

User avatar
Mirza Shahzad
Posts: 12
Joined: July 22nd, 2019, 8:30 am
Contact:

Re: Herping In An Indian Mangrove Forest (pic heavy)

Post by Mirza Shahzad »

Thanks all, glad you liked it :D
Chaitanya wrote:
November 29th, 2021, 7:41 am
Ahaetulla nasuta is endemic to Sri Lanka what you found is probably Ahaetulla anomala.
No, definitely not anomala. Here we have A.anomala, A.laudankia and also what used to be nasuta, all living sympatrically. Hence mentioned it as Ahaetulla cf. nasuta .

Here's another shot for all the Trimeresurus aficionados out here :beer:

Image

Post Reply