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 Post subject: Big Fat Taiwan Herping Vacation!
PostPosted: June 14th, 2011, 4:48 am 
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Joined: June 8th, 2010, 2:19 am
Posts: 3179
Location: Kuching, Sarawak (Borneo)
During the first ten days of June, I had the honor to welcome and introduce another FHF member to the Beautiful Island that's been my home for almost twenty-two years now. Warren's ten-day vacation was split into two parts: a four-day road trip along the coast and over the Taiwan Alps, and five days of Iron Man Herping (breakfast/herp all day/siesta/dinner/herp all night) in the national park around my house. Warren is not only an experienced field biologist who taught me all sorts of highly useful tricks and things, but he also seems blessed with some sort of mojo magick that lures animals out of their hiding places at a ridiculously insane rate. We saw a total of 41 snakes from 15 species, three monkeys fighting in a tree, four flying squirrels cussing us out from their lofty perches, and myriads of frogs, turtles and weird invertebrates. Among the latter were a huge, horned, and hissing (yes, hissing) caterpillar as well as three vinegaroons and a formidable metallic-blue centipede dragging a dead skink twice his size across the road.

Below please find a deluge of pictures from this epic vacation.

Let's ease into it with with the Taiwanese equivalent of the Garter Snake - Amphiesma sauteri.

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(Photo: Warren)

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Here's the Meister hard at work. One of the things he taught me was that it's a crime to photograph snakes against an asphalt background all the time when your surroundings are brimming with fabulous photo backgrounds such as taro and banana leaves.
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Another interesting snake we found that morning was a False Viper (Macropisthodon rudis rudis) baby; a rear-fanged snake that morphs its oval head into a viperoid wedge when disturbed. Unfortunately, the cutesy-wootsy eyes do not turn to slits, rendering the transmogrification somewhat imperfect.
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Among the Many-banded Kraits (Bungarus m. multicinctus) in attendance was this nice, fat adult. Again, the taro leaf worked wonders on the visuals.
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Bill's VenomCam in action
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Bill The Fearless
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A young Red Bamboo Ratsnake (Oreocryptophis porphyracea kawakamii)
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(Photo: Warren)

Warren with a King Rat aka Stinky Goddess (Elaphe carinata), which we found in distinctly snake-unfriendly habitat - on a windswept, saltwater-whipped crag right by the ocean. Warren managed to capture this notoriously bitchystinkynasty beast with nothing more than a little telescopic pocket hook.
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A "dino" (Dinodon rufozonatum), Taiwan's most common non-venomomous snake. These guys eat everything: toads, roadkill, inverts, birds, rodents, and also do not shy away from dining on their conspecifics, if they can catch them.
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(Photo: Howard Chang)

Blind Snakes (Ramphotyphlops braminus) that Warren found while casually flipping some roadside shale in the mountains. True to type, he didn't come up with just one, but three - all of them sitting under two adjacent rocks! That's one more than I've seen in three years...
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(Photo: Howard Chang)

Herping party with an endemic slug eater (Pareas formosensis). (Note massive millipede on upper arm)
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Greater Green Snakes (Cyclophiops major) were in abundance day and night. Here are some of the more memorable individuals.

Sleeping Beauty
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Posing Beauty
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Mysterious Beauty. We found this one draped over a rock by the roadside as if posed for a photo.
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After we all had taken innumerable pictures of the surprisingly calm and unmoving beast, a closer checkup revealed the reason for its placidity:
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It was dead. Someone had indeed posed it there to shock the locals.

Fun in C major
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Now for a spot of snake food.

This cute little bugger is either an Eiffinger's Tree Frog (Chirixalus eiffingeri) or a Mientien Tree Frog (Chirixalus idiootocus), the latter being endemic to Yangmingshan National Park.
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A proud Swinhoe's Frog (Odorrana swinhoana)showing off.
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(Photos: Warren)

Warren herping the hell out of Taiwan's fabled ditches.
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On to the inverts! (All following photos: Warren, unless stated otherwise)

Now you see me.
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(Photo: Howard Chang)

Now you don't.
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We found the above five-inch scolopendrid in the middle of the road, hauling a monstrous dead skink towards the other side. After releasing him when we were done with the photos, he shot into the ditch and hid there...under water!!!

Another denizen of that particular ditch; possibly Macrobrachium formosense, endemic to the island.
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Purple People Eater (it's a freshwater crab; no idea as to the ID)
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Vinegaroon (Typopeltis crucifer) aka Whip Scorpion, this one sans whip. Warren managed to find three of these guys in one week. My record stands at two for three years.
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This one must be the most awesome caterpillar in the Western Galaxy (Sphinx Moth, probably). Almost as girthsome as a young banana, it would HISS at us like a snake every time we touched it. I had NO idea they had stuff like this here! Good thing I'm leaving this place next month - who knows what other devilry might lurk in these forests!
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Lastly, a few environment shots.

Central Cross-Island Highway at around 10,000 feet elevation
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My all-time favorite Taiwan plant - a tree fern, unrolling a new leaf
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Asparagus juice. The sophisticated herper's beverage of choice.
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 Post subject: Re: Big Fat Taiwan Herping Vacation!
PostPosted: June 14th, 2011, 4:51 am 

Joined: November 4th, 2010, 2:43 pm
Posts: 546
holy wow, great post


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 Post subject: Re: Big Fat Taiwan Herping Vacation!
PostPosted: June 14th, 2011, 4:32 pm 
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Joined: June 9th, 2010, 6:17 am
Posts: 351
I agree, great post :thumb:
We saw 14 kinds of snakes in a few days, all thanks to Hans' expert guiding.
He was a perfect host, and Taiwan is an amazing place!


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 Post subject: Re: Big Fat Taiwan Herping Vacation!
PostPosted: June 14th, 2011, 4:47 pm 
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Joined: June 8th, 2010, 2:19 am
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Location: Kuching, Sarawak (Borneo)
Thank you most kindly, gentlemen!

BTW, I forgot to mention that we also saw a civet, and a billion caterpillars covered in venomous (poisonous?) hairs hanging from silken threads from the foliage right onto the roads and trails everywhere. Nasty sting, they have.


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 Post subject: Re: Big Fat Taiwan Herping Vacation!
PostPosted: June 14th, 2011, 5:41 pm 
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Joined: July 22nd, 2010, 12:15 am
Posts: 50
Location: Yuen Long, NT Hong Kong
Great report. Looks you you guys had a fantastic time.


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 Post subject: Re: Big Fat Taiwan Herping Vacation!
PostPosted: June 14th, 2011, 5:58 pm 

Joined: June 9th, 2010, 1:04 pm
Posts: 79
Location: Central Florida
Great stuff as always! Those Greater Greens look like rough greens on steroids, what do they eat and how big do they get?


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 Post subject: Re: Big Fat Taiwan Herping Vacation!
PostPosted: June 14th, 2011, 10:10 pm 
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Joined: May 25th, 2011, 10:13 pm
Posts: 116
Location: OKlahoma
NICE POST!
I used to have three CH false viper babies, they are great pets! Never bite and are easy to feed. The baby eat earth worm, frog, and salamander while adult eat toad and frog. As I left China, I give them to my friend.


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 Post subject: Re: Big Fat Taiwan Herping Vacation!
PostPosted: June 14th, 2011, 11:17 pm 
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Joined: June 8th, 2010, 2:19 am
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Location: Kuching, Sarawak (Borneo)
Thanks again, guys!

As adults, the Greater Greens pretty exclusively feed on huge earthworms, and LOTS of them, one of the reasons why they're such a bitch to keep captive.

Incidentally, I forgot to add these two photos in the original post. Let them be a stern warning to those that envision a future of life in Asia: no matter your cultural or educational background - after too many years, you WILL eventually develop a taste for reptilian delicacies....

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 Post subject: Re: Big Fat Taiwan Herping Vacation!
PostPosted: June 15th, 2011, 12:36 am 
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Joined: June 11th, 2010, 10:19 am
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Location: Jyväskylä, Finland
Nice work, Warren and Hans. Seems like you had a great few days.


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 Post subject: Re: Big Fat Taiwan Herping Vacation!
PostPosted: June 15th, 2011, 1:25 am 
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Joined: April 28th, 2011, 6:03 am
Posts: 6
Awesome!

(Except for the asparagus juice, heh...)


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 Post subject: Re: Big Fat Taiwan Herping Vacation!
PostPosted: June 15th, 2011, 3:52 am 

Joined: March 8th, 2011, 12:21 am
Posts: 4
Location: Northern Taiwan
wicked pics, Warren & Hans!

:beer:


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 Post subject: Re: Big Fat Taiwan Herping Vacation!
PostPosted: June 15th, 2011, 4:53 am 
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Joined: June 7th, 2010, 7:31 am
Posts: 364
Location: A bunker near Mountainburg AR
Never get tired of your stuff Hans...always interesting AND entertaining... :thumb:


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 Post subject: Re: Big Fat Taiwan Herping Vacation!
PostPosted: June 15th, 2011, 9:01 am 
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Joined: June 7th, 2010, 8:52 am
Posts: 3481
Location: Morrisville, PA
Besides of course all the awesome herps, I think its fantastic that FHF united a Canadian with a TaiHANian (I don't know if Taiwanian is right) for herping! That simply kicks ass!


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 Post subject: Re: Big Fat Taiwan Herping Vacation!
PostPosted: June 15th, 2011, 10:45 am 
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Joined: June 8th, 2010, 7:08 pm
Posts: 400
well done gents!!!


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 Post subject: Re: Big Fat Taiwan Herping Vacation!
PostPosted: June 15th, 2011, 5:02 pm 
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Joined: June 7th, 2010, 7:58 am
Posts: 112
Location: Western Washington
Excellent, Hans. Asparagus juice! :thumb:


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 Post subject: Re: Big Fat Taiwan Herping Vacation!
PostPosted: June 15th, 2011, 5:21 pm 
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Joined: April 16th, 2011, 5:42 am
Posts: 58
Location: Southwestern Ontario
Great post! I seem to remember someone mentioning turtles somewhere....


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 Post subject: Re: Big Fat Taiwan Herping Vacation!
PostPosted: June 15th, 2011, 5:48 pm 
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Joined: June 8th, 2010, 2:19 am
Posts: 3179
Location: Kuching, Sarawak (Borneo)
Thanks again, all! Um, yeah, there were some toidls, Chinese Yellow-Stripe-Necked Turtles (Ocadia sinensis) Warren took all the pics of those. Maybe he can add some?


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 Post subject: Re: Big Fat Taiwan Herping Vacation!
PostPosted: June 16th, 2011, 4:34 am 
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Joined: June 8th, 2010, 2:19 am
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Location: Kuching, Sarawak (Borneo)
The other guys' pix are trickling in online. Here's one in the vein of "Me and the lads from the Viceroy's tax office, with the man-eating Bengal Tiger we bagged near Hyderabad back in 1867".

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(Photo: Bill Murphy)


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 Post subject: Re: Big Fat Taiwan Herping Vacation!
PostPosted: June 16th, 2011, 7:18 am 
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Joined: June 9th, 2010, 6:17 am
Posts: 351
iPhone 3GS snap:
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Just picked up an Olympus E-PL2 with macro converter here in Hong Kong. Knew I needed a new camera when I asked a friend to take all the photos while tidepooling. Not sure the Olympus is the best rig for my purposes (filming bugs walking around), but it should be better than a cellphone.


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 Post subject: Re: Big Fat Taiwan Herping Vacation!
PostPosted: June 16th, 2011, 8:48 am 
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Joined: June 7th, 2010, 6:11 am
Posts: 5722
Location: Los Angeles County
Beautiful, photos and snakes...

:beer: :thumb:

Fundad..


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 Post subject: Re: Big Fat Taiwan Herping Vacation!
PostPosted: June 16th, 2011, 1:55 pm 
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Joined: June 7th, 2010, 4:31 pm
Posts: 337
Location: Florida, USA
Great post! Like the tree fern shot!
:Mark


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 Post subject: Re: Big Fat Taiwan Herping Vacation!
PostPosted: June 16th, 2011, 3:59 pm 
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Joined: April 16th, 2011, 5:42 am
Posts: 58
Location: Southwestern Ontario
Very nice sinensis guys! How large was she? I love free range turtle pictures, especially when they are from Southeast Asia. I'm also curious to know more about this ironman herping that was mentioned.... Do you mean to say that all you did was eat, sleep, and herp?

Thanks for the terrific post!

Dan


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 Post subject: Re: Big Fat Taiwan Herping Vacation!
PostPosted: June 16th, 2011, 5:23 pm 
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Joined: June 8th, 2010, 2:19 am
Posts: 3179
Location: Kuching, Sarawak (Borneo)
thinkin_feller wrote:
Do you mean to say that all you did was eat, sleep, and herp?

Exactly. For five nights and four days. No kidding.


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 Post subject: Re: Big Fat Taiwan Herping Vacation!
PostPosted: June 17th, 2011, 5:24 am 
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Joined: June 7th, 2010, 6:45 am
Posts: 1472
Location: One of the boys from Illinois
Hans Breuer (twoton) wrote:
thinkin_feller wrote:
Do you mean to say that all you did was eat, sleep, and herp?

Exactly. For five nights and four days. No kidding.


Sounds like my kind of vacation.

Cool post!
-Mike


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 Post subject: Re: Big Fat Taiwan Herping Vacation!
PostPosted: June 20th, 2011, 7:53 am 
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Joined: February 6th, 2011, 9:09 pm
Posts: 466
Location: Guilin, Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region, China
Fark yes!


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