Taiwan Trash Snakes, Part 1: Dinodon rufozonatum

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Hans Breuer (twoton)
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Taiwan Trash Snakes, Part 1: Dinodon rufozonatum

Post by Hans Breuer (twoton) » June 24th, 2010, 11:59 pm

Rather than wallowing in self-pity and perpetuating my b*tching and moaning about my rather tepid herping season (so far), I've decided to turn the overabundance of trash snakes in this year's herping log into educational lemonade and create a series of posts on those critters us herpers over here hardly ever look at anymore, in the hope that maybe on some other faraway continent out there someone will be bored enough to find them exciting ;)

I'll start with the most abundant nocturnal snake in all of Taiwan - Dinodon rufozonatum. There's no valid English common name for this species, so we had to make one up. "Dinos", as we affectionately call them over hither, are the feral pigs of the Taiwan serpentofauna: they literally eat everything from large toads to half-decomposed mice to squished frogs stuck to the asphalt (see below), and if you mess with them, they'll stink you up with the olfactory power of an open sewer in mid-August, while aggressively and tenaciously ripping into your limbs with a formidable array of truly terrible chompers. Dinodon means "terror tooth", and a truer name was never given. The first one I ever saw (first photo) actually tried to shred my hiking boot into Gore-Tex bird cage litter....

There are a handful of other Dinodon sp. in Asia, one of which (D. septentrionalis) bears striking resemblance to the Many-banded Krait (Bungarus m. multicinctus). In fact, in decades past, English-speaking foreigners in Taiwan used to call D. rufozonatum the "Red-Banded Krait". More info on this legless javelina can be found here, and now for a few images.

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I keep a few Dinos for the snake talks I give in elementary schools. They're easy pets - just put a bowl of fish in their tank, and they'll help themselves whenever they're hungry.

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Re: Taiwan Trash Snakes, Part 1: Dinodon rufozonatum

Post by mikemike » June 25th, 2010, 1:57 am

One country's trash is another's treasure, Hans!
I look forward to your posts... even if they are "trash snakes." haha

Thanks for sharing.

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Re: Taiwan Trash Snakes, Part 1: Dinodon rufozonatum

Post by rosy-man » June 25th, 2010, 2:08 am

my kids would love the eating fish part

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Re: Taiwan Trash Snakes, Part 1: Dinodon rufozonatum

Post by Paul White » June 25th, 2010, 8:05 am

what mikemike said! Those look pretty sweet. Do they live in similar habitat to the kraits, or are they really a generalist?

And I want one as a pet :lol:

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Re: Taiwan Trash Snakes, Part 1: Dinodon rufozonatum

Post by monklet » June 25th, 2010, 8:52 am

Any creature which can inspire such a flamboyant verbal tirade is not entirely worthless.

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Re: Taiwan Trash Snakes, Part 1: Dinodon rufozonatum

Post by moloch » June 25th, 2010, 3:31 pm

Any creature which can inspire such a flamboyant verbal tirade is not entirely worthless
I agree! Hans, you have a marvelous style of writing. Your posts are always entertaining.

Regards,
David

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Re: Taiwan Trash Snakes, Part 1: Dinodon rufozonatum

Post by Hans Breuer (twoton) » June 25th, 2010, 7:36 pm

Thank you all for the nice comments! Yes, Dinos are generalists and can be found from sea level all the way up to 2000 meters/6500 feet. Hence their abundance - no mountain too high, no carcass too old for them :-)

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Re: Taiwan Trash Snakes, Part 1: Dinodon rufozonatum

Post by Ross Padilla » June 25th, 2010, 9:39 pm

Nice shots. Thats a very cool looking species. :thumb:

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Re: Taiwan Trash Snakes, Part 1: Dinodon rufozonatum

Post by Limogi » October 26th, 2010, 4:55 am

Hi!
Last night my cat brought me a present. A little red banded snake like the ones here. It's still pretty small, and was all hard and paralyzed. I put it in a box and added one of those handwarmer things you activate by rubbing together.
It has since recuperated, but I have fallen in love with it.
I've built a quick terrarium (?) in an old mouse cage: some compost, bark, a little dish for a pond, a twig with leaves on. The snake likes to lie on top of of the leaves.
I added a cockroach. It's gone, but I don't know whether it escaped or was eaten.
I know nothing about snakes, but want to keep this one for a while, and release it later.
Can you give me some pointers?
Limogi

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Re: Taiwan Trash Snakes, Part 1: Dinodon rufozonatum

Post by Hans Breuer (twoton) » October 26th, 2010, 6:07 am

Hi Limogi

These guys eat everything but insects. if it's really the same species, feeding it fish is easiest. Put a water bowl in the tank and a few suitably sized fish (feeding fish from the aquarium shop, NT$20 per ounce). The snake will catch them when it's hungry.

Are you in Taiwan? If so, you don't need hand warmers. Unless you have the AC running, ambient temperature is just fine.

But do put a hide in the tank: an upended flower pot or somesuch. It's a nocturnal snake and needs a dark place to rest during the day.

Cheers

Hans

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Re: Taiwan Trash Snakes, Part 1: Dinodon rufozonatum

Post by Limogi » October 27th, 2010, 1:38 am

Thanks, Hans. Yes, it's definitely the same species. It burrowed into the compost and it's just staying there. Is it ok to feed it maggots? I know they eventually become six-legged insects, but at the moment they are legless and wiggly, so might seem appetising to it?
It seemed scared of the cockroach...
Yes, I stay in Taiwan, like you! Ok, so I'll stop with the handwarmers.

It has ablack-plated head, which you can't see in the pic, but that was one of the most telltale things with which I identified it, after I got pics of similar patterned snakes.
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This is the little snake I am crazy about. I love the colours and feel of its skin.
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Re: Taiwan Trash Snakes, Part 1: Dinodon rufozonatum

Post by Hans Breuer (twoton) » October 27th, 2010, 1:48 am

Hi Limogi,

yup, that's a Dino alright. I don't think maggots are OK, too little fat content. If live little fish don't work for some reason, you can buy fresh fish on the market, cut it in tiny pieces and hand-feed the snake with tweezers. I've done that, but it takes patience, and some specimens don't take to it at all.

How big is the snake? Maybe you can already start on baby frogs....if you can stand the frogs' whining when they get eaten :-)

Where in TW are you?

Cheers

Hans

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Re: Taiwan Trash Snakes, Part 1: Dinodon rufozonatum

Post by Limogi » October 27th, 2010, 2:26 am

I'd say it's about 30 cm, don't know for sure.
Where can I get frogs? Go catch 'em by the river?
I live in Ankeng, Xindien, close to Taipei.
Why do they need much fat? The protein content of maggots is 29% and the fat content is 9%. i'm almost sure that's more than in frogs?
Where do you stay?

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Re: Taiwan Trash Snakes, Part 1: Dinodon rufozonatum

Post by Hans Breuer (twoton) » October 27th, 2010, 4:30 am

Limogi wrote:I'd say it's about 30 cm, don't know for sure.
Oh, never mind the frogs, then. That's big enough for the aquarium shop fish. Make sure they give you small ones at first. I've had a clutch of newborn dinos commit mass-seppuku by eating each other and bursting at the seams in the process. Their eyes are often larger than their stomach.

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