After a spring that could only be defined as a mild winter, summer has also been coming slow this year here in Northern Taiwan. May, traditionally the first month when warm enough to go herping above 2500 feet, was one huge deluge and kept us either indoors or well below the tree line. Adding insult to this injury, of the 120+ snakes I've seen so far this year, almost 90% were trash. Yes, Viridovipera stejnegeri
is a pretty little tree viper, habus (Protobothrops mucrosquamatus
look quite menacing, slug snakes (Pareas formosanus
) are endemic to Taiwan, and Dinodon rufozonatum
are exotic, but after seeing the 25th of any of these species, the herper soul just screams for something DIFFERENT, although we're fully aware that almost only these come out in shitty weather. The funny thing is that last year I would have included the Many-banded krait (Bungarus m. multicinctus
) among the snakes listed above, because it is a quite common animal here - but not this year. This year, I saw only TWO of them, and neither gave me an opportunity to photograph them. I've been jonesing for a proper krait so badly this season, it wasn't funny anymore.
Well, all that changed two nights ago. Mr. Onionsack and me were trawling one of our favorite ditches along a totally uninhabited mountain road at about 2000 feet elevation, scaring up the usual blahs ("yet another Dino...") and mehs ("bamboo viper....yawn"), when I finally came upon what I'd been waiting for all year: a huge krait slowly meandering its way in the ditch right before me, trolling for snakes and other consumables. As opposed to vipers, most (Taiwan) elapids do not freeze when flashlighted upon, but keep crawling, slowly but surely, so we were prepared to follow its dead-on course along the curve of the ditch bottom. But this one didn't seem to run on the usual kraitopilot at all, instead regaling us with a rare show: it decided to crawl up the almost-vertical embankment, turn back down again mid-wall, then, right before hitting bottom, crawl all the way up again. Upon reaching the lip of the embankment, I gently hooked it back into the ditch, where it immediately headed for higher ground again. Here's the entire run in sequence. (I'll post Onionsack's macro shots in the next installment)