It is currently November 21st, 2017, 6:04 am

All times are UTC - 8 hours




Post new topic Reply to topic  [ 20 posts ] 
Author Message
 Post subject: Borneo Dispatches 002 - Kopstein's Bronzeback Eating Lizard
PostPosted: August 6th, 2011, 6:24 am 
User avatar

Joined: June 8th, 2010, 2:19 am
Posts: 3179
Location: Kuching, Sarawak (Borneo)
We had just arrived at the parking lot at Ranchan Falls, Serian, Sarawak, Borneo, and I was fixing to get our swimming gear from the trunk, when my son Karl started yelling like a madman: "Snakesnakesnakesnakesnake! No, wait - it's a lizard! OMIGOD, OMIGOD, IT'S A SNAKE EATING A LIZARD!!!!". We all ran over to the narrow strip of grass separating the parking lot from the jungle, and were treated to a most spectacular spectacle: like a periscope, a snake's head stuck out from the grass and traveled with apparent haste, yet not without elegance, towards the trees. That would have been a nice find in and of itself, but Fate had dished out a few bonus points: the head and anterior part of the snake, now inflated, presented a palette of gaudy colors, and in its mouth the three-foot beast carried a rather large black lizard - an iguanid, the first one we had seen after four weeks of nothing but geckos and skinks.

At first glance I had thought our quarry to be a flying snake, but after closer inspection dismissed the idea. As I'm still not too familiar with Borneo's one hundred sixty-eight known snake species, the only thing I was able to conclude with certainty was the non-toxicity of the animal. Proper identification, however, had to wait until I got my hands on my herp books at home.

Presence of mind is not something that comes easy in the equatorial midday heat, especially if four hyper-excited kids are bouncing off the walls (well, trees) around you, stoked about the marvelous discovery. But the telescopic viper hook I always carry in my pocket for just such an occasion helped to launch the operation properly (many thanks again to Warren, who introduced me to this wonderful utensil during his visit to Taiwan! I never leave home without it nowadays). I gently hooked the snake over to the parking lot, and my niece, easily the smartest of the four frazzlebrains, immediately started taking photos. (This move proved to be a life-saver later, when the batteries in my own camera went dead after two photos, and the spares turned out to be duds. Most of the pix you're about to see were taken with Hsiaochi's idiot box - quite a marvelous little idiot box, I have to admit)

Still on the hook, the snake now prepared for defense and released the lizard, who, trying to avoid a fiery crash to the ground, caught hold of the snake's tail on the way down and dangled there for a brief stint. I had passed the hook to Karl and was now sitting on the tarmac, preparing to calm the snake under my bush hat. The lizard finally realized how ludicrous he looked in his aerial position and dropped to the ground, where the kids secured him for further inspection. I took the snake off the hook, placed it on the asphalt, and covered it with my hat. That, uh, didn't work so well. A diurnal lizard hunter with huge eyes that hint at great visual powers, Dendrelaphis kopsteini displayed many traits also found in racers and ratsnakes: instead of hiding under the hat, it kept trying to get out from under it with a vengeance, snapping at everything and everyone in its way, and at one time even climbing my body in search of a way out (maybe arboreal snakes are like cats, always trying to get to higher ground when danger is afoot).

The above-mentioned heat quickly forced me to give up any ideas on engaging in a battle of patience with the snake, so we resorted to taking "manual" shots. I hope the kind reader will forgive me, considering the brutal circumstances :-)

NOTE: The beautiful blue patch behind the orange nape is only visible when the snake assumes a puffed-up defense posture.

The only shot of the snake holding the lizard (the lizard is where the arrow points :-))
Image

Lizard hanging off the snake
Image

Image

Image

Image

The call them "Bronzebacks" for a reason:
Image

Image

Image

Image

Image

Image

Image

Image

After consulting Lizards of Borneo, I believe it's some kind of Gonocephalus. Anyone able to properly ID the thing?
Image

Image

After this exciting episode, we had a wonderful swim in the waterfall pools. It's a truly grand, and at the same time antediluvian feeling to lie on your back in the cold, cold water rushing down from the falls, and to admire the epiphyte-covered trees scraping the sky above you, the huge ferns shading the banks, and all the rest of the unbelievably dense and rich jungle vegetation. Intensifying the atmosphere are the little fish that come and nibble at the skin on your feet, the skinks basking on the poolside rocks, and the huge butterflies fluttering around it all.

There was also a treefrog (ID?) my nephew found, and which kept clinging to the boy's body for the best part of half an hour, no matter what Yahsiu did or where he went...
Image

Image

Image

Image

And a nice, fat millipede that I found on my walk around the short, but pretty jungle trails around the pools....

Image

By the way, Serian is also the durian capital of Borneo. I had the pleasure of eating my first wild variety that day....truly the King of Fruit, that. Our house, our car, my office...everything now smells of the haul we brought back. I'm in heaven!
Image


Top
 Profile WWW 
Reply with quote  
 Post subject: Re: Borneo Dispatches 002 - Kopstein's Bronzeback Eating Liz
PostPosted: August 6th, 2011, 6:55 am 
User avatar

Joined: June 12th, 2010, 9:28 am
Posts: 572
Location: Monterey Peninsula, CA
Wonderful story and the snake is even more beautiful than I thought from your "ID Needed" photo. I’m sure you had a lot of delicious stinky durian to celebrate!

John


Top
 Profile WWW 
Reply with quote  
 Post subject: Re: Borneo Dispatches 002 - Kopstein's Bronzeback Eating Liz
PostPosted: August 6th, 2011, 7:53 am 
User avatar

Joined: June 7th, 2010, 4:26 am
Posts: 3420
Location: Illinois
Wow, My what big eyes you have!


Top
 Profile WWW 
Reply with quote  
 Post subject: Re: Borneo Dispatches 002 - Kopstein's Bronzeback Eating Liz
PostPosted: August 6th, 2011, 9:57 am 
User avatar

Joined: October 28th, 2010, 4:34 am
Posts: 135
Location: based in UK
Fantastic, love the action shot, that snake is a stunner.

I think the lizard the snake was at empting to eat may have been Bronchocela cristatella
The frog is Staurois natator, I can't believe it hang around for an hoour and on someone! in the past I spent the best part of an hour trying to get close to these frogs to photograph them, some people have all the luck :D


Top
 Profile WWW 
Reply with quote  
 Post subject: Re: Borneo Dispatches 002 - Kopstein's Bronzeback Eating Liz
PostPosted: August 6th, 2011, 10:10 am 
User avatar

Joined: June 9th, 2010, 6:17 am
Posts: 351
great post! love this pic:
Image
pocket hooks rock! :thumb:


Top
 Profile  
Reply with quote  
 Post subject: Re: Borneo Dispatches 002 - Kopstein's Bronzeback Eating Liz
PostPosted: August 6th, 2011, 4:42 pm 
User avatar

Joined: June 8th, 2010, 2:19 am
Posts: 3179
Location: Kuching, Sarawak (Borneo)
Thanks for the comments and IDs, guys!

Isn't B. cristator usually either green or light grey?

Quote:
pocket hooks rock! :thumb:

oh yes they do :-)


Top
 Profile WWW 
Reply with quote  
 Post subject: Re: Borneo Dispatches 002 - Kopstein's Bronzeback Eating Liz
PostPosted: August 6th, 2011, 5:41 pm 
User avatar

Joined: June 7th, 2010, 6:09 pm
Posts: 1211
Another great post from Borneo, Hans! I had an experience with Durian also. Saw it in a local Asian Market and this Indonesian fellow swore up and down how good it was. So i decided to buy one. I checked online and found out this fruit is so nutritious you can practically live off it and eat nothing else. When I cut it open the odor really knocked me for a loop. And then the flavour of the custardy flesh: like sweet and salty at the same time. I decided I wasn't going to eat it and tried giving it to my mousebirds who are frugivores but will try to eat practically anything. They even turmed away from it. So in the trash it went before it stank up my entire apartment!


Top
 Profile  
Reply with quote  
 Post subject: Re: Borneo Dispatches 002 - Kopstein's Bronzeback Eating Liz
PostPosted: August 6th, 2011, 6:44 pm 
User avatar

Joined: June 9th, 2010, 9:57 pm
Posts: 474
Location: Ohio, then Arizona, now South Australia
Wow, thanks for making this additional post with all of the new pics and commentary! I am especially fascinated by the very different scalation of this genus.

Hans Breuer (twoton) wrote:
Image


Top
 Profile  
Reply with quote  
 Post subject: Re: Borneo Dispatches 002 - Kopstein's Bronzeback Eating Liz
PostPosted: August 6th, 2011, 8:27 pm 
User avatar

Joined: June 12th, 2010, 9:28 am
Posts: 572
Location: Monterey Peninsula, CA
Hans Breuer (twoton) wrote:
Thanks for the comments and IDs, guys!

Isn't B. cristator usually either green or light grey?



My Pocket Guide to Lizards of Borneo (Indraneil Das -- maybe the same book you consulted?) says about Bronchocela cristatella “dorsum green, sometimes with white or light blue spots or bars, changeable to brown”. This is a little ambiguous, but I think the intended meaning is that the dorsum is changeable from green to brown. And your lizard does have faint light bars visible on the back, which are about the same thickness and spaced about the same distance apart as the ones on the photo in the book. And presumably the lizard is horribly stressed -- maybe the brown color is related to stress. And its general shape and size of nuchal crest look like a good match for B. cristatella, so that seems like a reasonable possibility. Gonocephalus doriae is maybe the other most likely match from this little (no doubt wildly incomplete) book, and is described as another species that’s typically green but changeable to brown (with less ambiguous wording), but G. doriae seems to be of generally more robust build.

John


Top
 Profile WWW 
Reply with quote  
 Post subject: Re: Borneo Dispatches 002 - Kopstein's Bronzeback Eating Liz
PostPosted: August 6th, 2011, 10:19 pm 

Joined: June 8th, 2010, 1:17 am
Posts: 136
Hi Hans,

yep, your second kopstein's/red-necked bronzeback (they can be quite common in disturbed areas)... Also, the lizard is Bronchocela cristatella in 'stressed' form. The frog is known as a black-spotted rock frog, Staurois natator, common in streams/gullies in primary forest.


Top
 Profile  
Reply with quote  
 Post subject: Re: Borneo Dispatches 002 - Kopstein's Bronzeback Eating Liz
PostPosted: August 7th, 2011, 11:46 am 
User avatar

Joined: June 7th, 2010, 6:40 pm
Posts: 339
Wow Hans, what luck! Indeed your frog is Staurois natator, and I agree that they can be a pain to approach for a quality photo. For a good frog book, I suggest Inger and Stuebing's A Field Guide to the Frogs of Borneo. Although it's wickedly overpriced there, I got in the bookstore of Kinabalu NP for only about 10USD. Maybe check out the national parks office in Kuching, they had a selection of stuff for sale there. It's one of the few books that is remarkably easier to find in Borneo than outside.

Keep up the good work and the awesome posts. Thanks Hans!

-Alex


Top
 Profile  
Reply with quote  
 Post subject: Re: Borneo Dispatches 002 - Kopstein's Bronzeback Eating Liz
PostPosted: August 8th, 2011, 1:50 am 

Joined: June 8th, 2010, 1:17 am
Posts: 136
Yep, suprisingly the kinabalu HQ sells books for a lower price than anywhere else in sabah, even though almost everything else in the park is overpriced!

At the airport at KK i went to a bookshop and wanted to purchase a book on snakes of borneo; they quoted 80 or 90 dollars, i dont remember.... Either way, it was too expensive haha. I told them this, and then i asked them whether they ever sold any of these field-guides. They said, No. I told them that this was the result of the guide books being too expensive. They agreed. I asked them for discount. They didn't give any :?: !! Pretty amusing, but, ah well. The book was beautiful, and i couldn't leave it there for nobody to buy. Yep, eventually i bought the book! Moral of the story? Never take the same approach as me when trying to bargain for a lower price :P


Top
 Profile  
Reply with quote  
 Post subject: Re: Borneo Dispatches 002 - Kopstein's Bronzeback Eating Liz
PostPosted: August 8th, 2011, 1:53 am 
User avatar

Joined: June 8th, 2010, 11:24 pm
Posts: 129
Location: Sweden
WOW! Thats one heck of a snake! Stunning!


Top
 Profile  
Reply with quote  
 Post subject: Re: Borneo Dispatches 002 - Kopstein's Bronzeback Eating Liz
PostPosted: August 8th, 2011, 4:47 am 
User avatar

Joined: June 8th, 2010, 2:19 am
Posts: 3179
Location: Kuching, Sarawak (Borneo)
Thanks again for the nice comments, ID confirmations, and book sourcing tips, everyone!

Quote:
Saw it in a local Asian Market

Like betelnuts and Guinness, durians belong to the products that do not survive transport outside their homelands. Even in Taiwan, merely 2000 miles away from Borneo, the quality of durians is merely acceptable, and even that only in a pinch (of course, four weeks ago I found the durians in Taiwan irresistible. But now I see them as what they are: "over-fertilized mass produce from heavily industrialized farms")

Quote:
Pocket Guide to Lizards of Borneo (Indraneil Das -- maybe the same book you consulted?)

The very one.

Quote:
says about Bronchocela cristatella “dorsum green, sometimes with white or light blue spots or bars, changeable to brown”. This is a little ambiguous, but I think the intended meaning is that the dorsum is changeable from green to brown. And your lizard does have faint light bars visible on the back, which are about the same thickness and spaced about the same distance apart as the ones on the photo in the book. And presumably the lizard is horribly stressed -- maybe the brown color is related to stress. And its general shape and size of nuchal crest look like a good match for B. cristatella, so that seems like a reasonable possibility. Gonocephalus doriae is maybe the other most likely match from this little (no doubt wildly incomplete) book, and is described as another species that’s typically green but changeable to brown (with less ambiguous wording), but G. doriae seems to be of generally more robust build.

We noticed that the lizard was changing colors as we played with him. I didn't know what to make of it, but now I do. Still, the above passage brings fear to my heart regarding my future attempts at identifying Bornean lizards. Why, oh why, does it have to be this complicated?? :-)

Quote:
I suggest Inger and Stuebing's A Field Guide to the Frogs of Borneo

I'm using this site mostly: http://frogsofborneo.org/ (another Indraneil Das co-production)

Quote:
kopstein's/red-necked bronzeback (they can be quite common in disturbed areas)

And so they would seem...we found another one yesterday right outside the Fairy Cave in Bau. A Belgian tourist to whom I had professed my love for snakes less than ten minutes before, drew my attention to the critter in the roadside grass. The snake was quite passive, but still snappy enough to draw lusty screams from the seven witnessing children (the Belgian's three daughters, and the four clowns I'm currently dragging around) when it went for my face with gusto. It had some kind of massive scar a few inches behind the neck; not sure if that contributed to its muted spirit (well, compared to the first specimen)

Image

Image

Image


Top
 Profile WWW 
Reply with quote  
 Post subject: Re: Borneo Dispatches 002 - Kopstein's Bronzeback Eating Liz
PostPosted: August 8th, 2011, 5:02 am 
User avatar

Joined: June 12th, 2010, 9:28 am
Posts: 572
Location: Monterey Peninsula, CA
Hans Breuer (twoton) wrote:
Still, the above passage brings fear to my heart regarding my future attempts at identifying Bornean lizards. Why, oh why, does it have to be this complicated?? :-)


Only because there are so many big spectacular lizards in Borneo to choose from!

John


Top
 Profile WWW 
Reply with quote  
 Post subject: Re: Borneo Dispatches 002 - Kopstein's Bronzeback Eating Liz
PostPosted: August 8th, 2011, 8:35 am 
User avatar

Joined: June 7th, 2010, 4:14 pm
Posts: 744
Location: Asheville NC
What a beautiful snake, I'm so excited you guys are in Borneo. Can't wait for more :thumb:


Top
 Profile  
Reply with quote  
 Post subject: Re: Borneo Dispatches 002 - Kopstein's Bronzeback Eating Liz
PostPosted: August 9th, 2011, 3:23 am 
User avatar

Joined: June 22nd, 2010, 9:48 pm
Posts: 277
Stunning snake, Dendrelaphis is an underrated genus.

I take it the lizard was lucky enough to survive its encounter with the snake after your intervention? I once saw a D. caudolineatus feeding on a large Eutropis (formerly Mabuya) multifasciata. When I approached for a photo the snake dropped the lizard abruptly and shot away into the forest at top speed. I went and checked on the skink, but it was quite dead. Riddle me this, if Dendrelaphis are non-toxic, how do they kill large lizard prey without constricting it?


Top
 Profile  
Reply with quote  
 Post subject: Re: Borneo Dispatches 002 - Kopstein's Bronzeback Eating Liz
PostPosted: August 9th, 2011, 6:25 am 

Joined: June 11th, 2010, 8:09 pm
Posts: 523
Location: Edmonton, Alberta
I absolutely adore Dendrelaphis... I was more of a D. formosus fan, but this one I'd have to admit is just as spectacular! Hans, your the man! If I'm ever privalaged enough to travel to SE Asia I'm calling you up!

Ian


Top
 Profile  
Reply with quote  
 Post subject: Re: Borneo Dispatches 002 - Kopstein's Bronzeback Eating Liz
PostPosted: August 10th, 2011, 4:26 am 
User avatar

Joined: June 8th, 2010, 2:19 am
Posts: 3179
Location: Kuching, Sarawak (Borneo)
TNWJackson wrote:
I take it the lizard was lucky enough to survive its encounter with the snake after your intervention

It was.

Quote:
If I'm ever privalaged enough to travel to SE Asia I'm calling you up!

I'd be privileged to take you around :-)


Top
 Profile WWW 
Reply with quote  
 Post subject: Re: Borneo Dispatches 002 - Kopstein's Bronzeback Eating Liz
PostPosted: August 13th, 2011, 11:54 am 
User avatar

Joined: June 15th, 2010, 9:42 am
Posts: 74
Location: Sweden
That is one beautiful snake. Thanks for sharing!


Top
 Profile  
Reply with quote  
Display posts from previous:  Sort by  
Post new topic Reply to topic  [ 20 posts ] 

All times are UTC - 8 hours


Who is online

Users browsing this forum: Google [Bot] and 23 guests


You cannot post new topics in this forum
You cannot reply to topics in this forum
You cannot edit your posts in this forum
You cannot delete your posts in this forum
You cannot post attachments in this forum

Search for:
Jump to: