Thursday, March 8, 2007

More on the doggies

Went for another 2 more snake hunting sessions with Sijie and his volunteers. I thought I could share what I learnt about these beauties on the blog.

For the past 2 days, I was trying real hard to differentiate the guys from the gals because a visual clue is at this region called the cloaca which is somewhat like a little bellybutton near the rear underside of the snake. For the males, there would be a "barrel" or a segment of equal width just after the cloaca before the tail starts to taper off and this was supposed to contain the penis. For the females, the tail would taper off rather abruptly after the cloaca.

The dog faced watersnake would catch its prey using 2 methods. First one is to "sit and wait" where they basically lay motionless till a fish comes by and then it strikes. According to Sijie, this method is usually used to catch small fishes. The other method is to be actively hunting where the snake would go to deeper waters and catch their prey. This then, is the method of choice for larger fishes.

After catching their prey, the dog faced watersnake would then bring its prey up onto shore and this serves to suffocate the prey and at the same time, provide the snake some leverage to swallow the prey. Ingenious isn't it?

The snakes depend on motion to sense their prey too. This means, you can do all the ugly faces at it and it'll not strike but once you move your fingers in the water, it'll give you a nasty bite. Sijie showed this by splashing water in front of a snake and true enough, it attacked the water droplets.

On the last night, Sijie caught this baby one which was no more than 15cm long and it was really really tame. One of the volunteers fell so much in love with it that she wanted to bring it home but due to the risk of a scale infection, she got the honours to release it instead.

There was also another ambitious fella who had caught a big fat juicy fish a little too big for its size and while attempting to swallow, it actually coughed out blood. Look at what a blood stain it had, gosh it just knew its going to get a bad sore throat....

Higher up on shore, there were lots and lots of nerite snails. I actually found these guys way up on the slope and I wonder why they were not found closer to the water. On the second night, Helen also found a brownish black flatworm at the top of the slope too.

It was really a good experience for me and it is really worth it even though I was dead tired from a day of camping. Many many thanks to Sijie for letting me tag along and showing me these wonderful creatures. And also many thanks to all the volunteers for making the trips as exciting as it was.

More on the snake hunt on the wildfilms blog


ria said...

Wow, looks like I missed some excitement on the third night! Thanks for sharing all the fascinating facts, which I never could grasp even though Sijie is so patient in explaining them.

See you at the next hunt!

matinggeckos said...

Hi Dickson

I'm so very glad to see you participating in so many nature related work. Way to go!!

This snake hunting is somewhat a follow-up on Chee Kong's study on the snake's ecology. It was indeed a fun and enriching experience. Have you visited the SLOG blog?

Could I link your blog to mine?

See you soon!

Dickson said...

See you too on the next hunt Ria, and I'll try to bring along my camera too cause the photos from my phone are not really nice...

And Hi Robin! Yeah you're more than welcome to link my blog to yours.
See you soon too!

Tan said...

Heya, Sijie here. And yea, my project is a follow-up on Chee Kong's. In fact, he is my mentor. He is the one who brought me into the world of snakes and taught me everything I knew. Owe him a great deal!