Thursday, 19 November 2009

Here be snakes

When I lived in Townsville, one of my colleagues asked me to identify a snake she'd seen in her garden. She described it as being brown and having a piercing stare. This didn't narrow it down much. We decided that whatever the species, it was best to steer clear. Brown-coloured snakes in Townsville are never good news.

The snake was in the same place when she returned home. And was still there the next morning as she left for worl. When she eventually investigated (armed with a broom), the fearsome serpent turned out to be a piece of hessian.

We've all done it.

I went out into the garden this evening to take photos of the katydids and moths on the front windows. It's a good spot for them. Because I was only going a couple of metres, I didn't bother to put on shoes. I didn't go barefoot, of course, because that would be silly. I wore plastic sandals.

As I stepped off the concrete slab onto the dead lawn, something thin and black and glossy reared up and then started thrashing around. It was so animated, for a split second I thought it was an eel. But that misapprehension didn't last very long. I immediately stepped back onto the concrete and the snake headed towards the forest. It stopped about three metres from the house, where it remains. It hasn't moved for the past hour or so. If it's still there in the morning, I'll check it for weave.

Although my reptile ID skillz are not great, I think it's a small-eyed snake (Cryptophis or Rhinoplocephalus nigrescens), a small but potentially dangerous serpent. This species is reputedly bad-tempered, a personality trait that may be part of the short snake syndrome. They're usually only about 0.5m long, but make up for that in a spirited response to threats. The venom is myotoxic and at least one person has died from a bite.

I must make sure that the pressure bandages are somewhere I can find them. I suppose I could always use a sack in a pinch.


desertnutmeg said...

LOL! I almost lost my coffee-brown with a piercing stare -kinda sounds like the last guy i fell for.

As for your snake, it seems so black that in the first photo it almost looks fake. Is animated thrashing "normal;" do you think you might have stepped on it/stood on it? ~m.

mick said...

I like going barefoot! - so am glad I am just reading about your snake and not seeing it :-)

sarala said...

Glad we don't have much of a poisonous snake problem around here! Actually I've never seen a snake of any kind in the Chicago area. That is sad.
Don't get bitten. You live in a dangerous country--snakes and sharks. Oh my. (sarcasm intended).

Denis Wilson said...

Hi Snail
Good report.
Glad you got over the shock of the encounter in sufficient time to grab your camera.

Boobook said...

Fun blog to read first thing in the morning.
PS the code word foe comment is smiol :)

Snail said...

Dessertnutmeg, I was thinking about the behaviour last night and I suspect I did tread on it, although I didn't feel it at all. Poor snake. It wasn't terribly amused by the process.

Mick, I'm putting shoes on from this point forwards! I do like seeing snakes but preferably from a greater distance.

Sarala, oh yes, we're tough! There isn't too much to worry about in the rainforest but the thing that puts the wind up everyone here isn't a snake or spider, but a tree. We're always so busy concentrating on not walking into a stinging tree that I think we miss everything else!

Denis, I wasn't going to miss the opportunity! You know how it is. (I wish I'd used spot metering, though.) After our encounter, the snake slithered a few metres, then stopped. It remained in that spot for a couple of hours, only moving away when I switched off the outside light. I hope it went away from the car port ...

Boobook, I 'smioled' at the encounter.

Tyto Tony said...

And would the sack be to bag the snake or wrap around the bite?

Snail said...

Or to pull over my head ...