KraitZilla, Part One

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Hans Breuer (twoton)
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KraitZilla, Part One

Post by Hans Breuer (twoton) » June 23rd, 2010, 2:06 am

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)

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Bill Love
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Re: KraitZilla, Part One

Post by Bill Love » June 23rd, 2010, 4:25 am

It does look like a cooperative one. So, how long was it?

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Hans Breuer (twoton)
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Re: KraitZilla, Part One

Post by Hans Breuer (twoton) » June 23rd, 2010, 5:11 am

Four and a half feet, I believe

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justinm
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Re: KraitZilla, Part One

Post by justinm » June 23rd, 2010, 6:22 am

You seem to find a lot of snakes on these rock features. What purpose do they serve there? Is this a common feature? Congrats on a little variety.

Paul White
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Re: KraitZilla, Part One

Post by Paul White » June 23rd, 2010, 8:04 am

congrats on the variety and neat shots.
Can we some of photos of the "trash" too? It's all exotic to this Texas boy :) And I have to admit I don't know how comfy I'd be around a good sized elapid. I know very little about kraits and I'm under the distinct impression mistakes are costly.

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Ryan Thies
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Re: KraitZilla, Part One

Post by Ryan Thies » June 23rd, 2010, 8:37 am

Sweet!

Ryan

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monklet
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Re: KraitZilla, Part One

Post by monklet » June 23rd, 2010, 8:38 am

Great pics of Onionsack - never thought of herp photography as so athletic ;)

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Hans Breuer (twoton)
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Re: KraitZilla, Part One

Post by Hans Breuer (twoton) » June 23rd, 2010, 8:10 pm

Thanks for the kind words, muchachos. These rock features are walls erected to prevent landslides, a common feature along mountain roads in rainy areas with lots of steep slopes.

Contrary to their terrifying reputation, Many-banded Kraits are among the most sweet-natured snakes you can wish for. I've never had a a krait snap at me or the hook or anything else - they just want to get away when they sense trouble. Tonging them leads to ferocious thrashing, but again, no biting. I'm as comfortable around them as I can be without forgetting the animal's immense lethal potential. I had one run over my shoe the other day (it came out of a pond and disappeared into the pondside vegetation by way of my foot) and didn't even get goosebumps. Still, I don't underestimate their ability for extremely fast reactions when need be, so I don't touch them (or any other hots) at all.

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rosy-man
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Re: KraitZilla, Part One

Post by rosy-man » June 24th, 2010, 2:13 am

wow nice shots

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Warren
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Re: KraitZilla, Part One

Post by Warren » June 24th, 2010, 4:12 am

:thumb:

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Steve Atkins
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Re: KraitZilla, Part One

Post by Steve Atkins » June 24th, 2010, 8:11 am

Hans Breuer (twoton) wrote: scaring up the usual blahs ("yet another Dino...") and mehs ("bamboo viper....yawn")

Sounds like a real boring place to go herping :lol:

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