Snakes!


#61

Just “discovered” your YouTube channel. Awesome footage. Are you taking the Northern Cross-Island Hwy a lot?

We hike almost every weekend, but don’t encounter snakes very often. Maybe I am not looking closely, or snakes are just not active during the time we are hiking, or they disappear too quickly. Once I saw a very long rat snake (I believe it was one) in a creek in the Pingxi area. I was surprised to see it “standing up” in the water, about 30 centimeters or so. Was it looking for fish, I wonder?[/quote]

Yes, I often jump on my scooter and take the “Bei Heng” #7 to Fuxing and then on to Baling where you’ll find arguably the best herping road in all of Taiwan. It’s MUCH easier to find snakes at night illuminated by your headlight. Gotta have a good eye and be lucky to spot stuff during the day, although I have found that with experience comes greater success at spotting things. My friends are always shocked at how much stuff I see, both during the day and on our night excursions. Please do send me a PM if you ever want to join us for one of our outings looking for snakes!


#62

Cool, that would be great. :thumbsup:


#63

Great … one more thing to look forward to :slight_smile:


#64

This was the last snake I came across in 2014, on the last day of the year, in fact. A friend of mine was visiting Taiwan and we went for a hike on the local hill, both of us lamenting the fact that the snake season was over and we’d just have to content ourselves with the unusually sunny weather and relatively warm (18C) temps on that day. So of course, snakes being snakes and consistently failing to follow the script, what do we find out basking on the top of a hill on the far ridge? This beautiful King Ratsnake. :slight_smile:

Here are my final statistics for the year, quite the haul! :

914 Snakes of 2014

  1. Viridovipera stejnegeri stejnegeri - 426
  2. Dinodon rufozonatum – 170
  3. Lycodon ruhstrati ruhstrati – 65
  4. Protobothrops mucrosquamatus - 52
  5. Cyclophiops major - 47
  6. Pareas formosensis – 32
  7. Elaphe carinata - 19
  8. Bungarus multicinctus multicinctus – 16
  9. Boiga kraepelini – 14
  10. Naja atra – 11
  11. Oreocryptophis porphyracea kawakamii – 8
  12. Calamaria pavimentata – 6
  13. Sinomicrurus macclellandi swinhoei - 6
  14. Amphiesma sauteri – 5
  15. Psammodynastes pulverulentus papenfussi - 4
  16. Oligodon ornatus - 4
  17. Ovophis monticola makazayazaya – 4
  18. Sinomicrurus Hatori - 4
  19. Orthriophis taeniurus friesi – 3
  20. Euprepiophis mandarina – 3
  21. Oligodon formosanus – 3
  22. Deinagkistrodon acutus - 3
  23. Ptyas Mucosa - 2
  24. Ptyas Dhumnades - 2
  25. Macropisthodon rudis rudis - 2
  26. Pseudoxenodon Stejnegeri – 2
  27. Sibynophis chinensis chinensis - 1
  28. Trimeresurus Gracilis – 1

Month – Total – (species)

  1. January – 0 (0)
  2. February – 1 (1)
  3. March – 3 (2)
  4. April – 16 (6)
  5. May – 80 (12)
  6. June – 95 (15)
  7. July – 80 (16)
  8. August – 103 (17)
  9. September – 185 (18)
  10. October – 317 (9)
  11. November – 32 (9)
  12. December – 2 (2)

#65

Holly cow! that one is BIG. When are we going by night to YMS or whatever place you think is better for spotting these creatures? :smiley:


#66

Can’t believe we’re already in March, herp season is just a month away! I’ve even started seeing DORs (Dead on Road) on my hikes and bike rides so at least a few go-getter snakes have ventured out for one reason or another (only to find out it would have been better to have slept in). I generally regard Tomb Sweeping Day (April 5th) as the official beginning of the herp season, although if temperatures warm up enough we could definitely see stuff out before then. There’s a spot in San Zhi that I generally check out on that holiday so I will likely head there either on Sunday the 5th or Monday the 6th. Let me know if you want to join!


#67

onionsack, that list is a fantastic achievement. Eleven cobras! I had to go to snakesoftaiwan.com to find out what the scientific name for the Chinese Cobra is though. I guessed correctly at Viridovipera. :sunglasses:

I was out in the hills south of Huilong Station, Xinzhuang, on Tuesday and it was definitely warm enough for snakes. Didn’t see any :neutral: but it was certainly warm enough. I’ve started taking my girlfriend’s family’s dog out there for exercise because it’s the closest tract of somewhat natural landscape and if it weren’t for me the poor mutt would otherwise spend his days chained up in a factory. I’m curious about what his reaction will be when we come across a snake. Perhaps he’ll even sniff one out for me.


#68

Can’t believe we’re already in March, herp season is just a month away! I’ve even started seeing DORs (Dead on Road) on my hikes and bike rides so at least a few go-getter snakes have ventured out for one reason or another (only to find out it would have been better to have slept in). I generally regard Tomb Sweeping Day (April 5th) as the official beginning of the herp season, although if temperatures warm up enough we could definitely see stuff out before then. There’s a spot in San Zhi that I generally check out on that holiday so I will likely head there either on Sunday the 5th or Monday the 6th. Let me know if you want to join![/quote]
Just for the record, I spotted lots of small lizards last weekend, which should mean something. I was talking to an old folk who told us that there are lots of bamboo vipers, or green snakes, or I don´t know what, in some trail in Wulai. That they even hang out under the benches where people take a rest!


#69

[quote=“antarcticbeech”]onionsack, that list is a fantastic achievement. Eleven cobras! I had to go to snakesoftaiwan.com to find out what the scientific name for the Chinese Cobra is though. I guessed correctly at Viridovipera. :sunglasses:

I was out in the hills south of Huilong Station, Xinzhuang, on Tuesday and it was definitely warm enough for snakes. Didn’t see any :neutral: but it was certainly warm enough. I’ve started taking my girlfriend’s family’s dog out there for exercise because it’s the closest tract of somewhat natural landscape and if it weren’t for me the poor mutt would otherwise spend his days chained up in a factory. I’m curious about what his reaction will be when we come across a snake. Perhaps he’ll even sniff one out for me.[/quote]

It certainly has been warm enough for snakes, and two days ago a friend of mine and I decided to try our luck with a first ride of the year across the Northern Cross-Island Road to see if anything was out and about. Murphy’s Law quickly established itself, and my buddy’s motorcycle broke down only a few kilometers into the hills. We decided to press on on one bike, and were quickly rewarded with a cute little green tree viper that was trying to cross the road. But the real good stuff was still to come in Baling: Along with 7 or 8 other vipers, we came across a mating pair of Dinodons, a GORGEOUS and very rare Mandarin Ratsnake, a King Ratsnake, a ferret badger and a DOR flying squirrel (you can check out photos of this in the Rarely Seen Animals thread). Just a crazy good start to the herping season, which ordinarily doesn’t begin until at least Tomb Sweeping Day. Dig out your headlamps and flashlights, kids, herping season has arrived! :discodance:

*This was my first snake of the year: a tiny (4cm) Brahminy Blind Snake that I came across last week on our local hill in Taoyuan. Easily mistaken for a worm.

A glistening Green Tree Viper. These things are ubiquitous in Taiwan. We’ve come across a hundred of these in a single night at times…

This is a King Ratsnake (aka "Stinky Goddess). A large snake, and quite common along the Bei Heng.

The prize find of the night: a glorious Mandarin Ratsnake, albeit with some tail trauma evident from some past unpleasant incident. This is a “holy grail” snake in Taiwan, and if you’ve seen one of these live, you’re the member of a very small, lucky and exclusive club indeed.

Makes for some fabulous headgear as well… :laughing:


#70

:notworthy: :notworthy: :notworthy: so frigging awesome

Taiwan’s Animal Planet should get you to host a show about Taiwan’s snakes…


#71

[quote=“hansioux”][quote=“onionsack”]

*This was my first snake of the year: a tiny (4cm) Brahminy Blind Snake that I came across last week on our local hill in Taoyuan. Easily mistaken for a worm.
[/quote]

:notworthy: :notworthy: :notworthy: so frigging awesome

Taiwan’s Animal Planet should get you to host a show about Taiwan’s snakes…[/quote]

Ha! Sadly, I have a face meant for radio…


#72

Not at all! You’d look awesome on camera with serpents on your head.

Would you mind giving out some herping tips? I’ve never done it, but I’d like to take my 8 year old out to some of the local Hualien snake-spots.
What sort of after-dark times would you normally go out, and have you got any safety advice to pass on?

(we wouldn’t be looking to handle snakes - at first, anyway)


#73

[quote=“Nuit”]Not at all! You’d look awesome on camera with serpents on your head.

Would you mind giving out some herping tips? I’ve never done it, but I’d like to take my 8 year old out to some of the local Hualian snake-spots.
What sort of after-dark times would you normally go out, and have you got any safety advice to pass on?

(we wouldn’t be looking to handle snakes - at first, anyway)[/quote]

That’s awesome you’re going to take your kid out and introduce him to the wonders of nature…he’s going to love it! First of all, by FAR the most important safety advice I can give you is to get yourself a very good headlamp AND flashlight. The only real danger in herping is stepping on something that you don’t see, and a good set of lights can ensure that you always know what’s on the ground in front of you. I always also bring a spare headlamp, as well as extra batteries when I’m out herping. The last thing you want to have happen is to be out on a mountain somewhere and suddenly not be able to see where you’re going. The only other equipment you really need is a snake hook. I like collapsible ones because I can fit them in my scooter seat when I hit the hills. Most Taiwanese snakes are pretty small, so you don’t need anything too long or heavy. If at all possible, choose a herping area that you’re already familiar with (at least at first) and check it out during the daytime. I’m not at all familiar with Hualian so you’d have to gauge for yourself which paths/trails/roads look most likely to have snakes. If you’re road cruising, choose remote country roads that have no street lights. Your car’s headlights will illuminate anything crossing the road. If you’re walking trails, make SURE you are watching the path in front of you AT ALL TIMES, but don’t neglect to scan the banks, side vegetation, and canopy for snakes, too. You’ll often see them either sleeping or in ambush pose in branches. Try to familiarize yourself with the snakes you’re likely to see even before you go out. Check out our website www.snakesoftaiwan.com and you’ll get plenty of basic information about Taiwan’s snakes. Always let people know where you’re going to be when you go out herping, in case of emergency, and make sure you know which hospital/clinic is nearest to your herping area. The chances of anything bad happening are minuscule, but better safe than sorry. As soon as the sun goes down you can head out. I tend to find that 8-midnight is the best time. It’s best to find a partner to go with you, again, just in case something bad happens. (But also to help look for snakes, and someone to chat with when you’re out there!). And ideally, the first couple times you go out, you go with someone who has experience herping, so they can help identify the snakes you see. NEVER handle anything you can’t positively identify as non-venomous. Better, more experienced herpers than myself are now pushing daisies because they misidentified snakes. Anyway, much like scuba-diving, once you make sure to have the proper equipment in working order and follow the safety standards, you can relax out there and enjoy Taiwan’s amazing herpetofauna! :thumbsup:


#74

She :bow:.

Great stuff! More questions:

If I’m not picking snakes up, how would I handle the snake hook? Would you try to deflect a snake heading towards you, or just keep still and let it pass by?
Do rainy nights, or nights after rain, tend to give better results?
The best local place is apparently the Baibao River, south of Liyu Lake. Know it fairly well : long tarmac road going back in, turning into a wide fairly clear trail. I won’t be going bush-whacking out there. Bit concerned though that the area is known to harbour the 雨傘節 (banded krait). How aggressive are they?

Wondering about seeking out a local herper to go out with first…


#75

She :bow:.

Great stuff! More questions:

If I’m not picking snakes up, how would I handle the snake hook? Would you try to deflect a snake heading towards you, or just keep still and let it pass by?
Do rainy nights, or nights after rain, tend to give better results?
The best local place is apparently the Baibao River, south of Liyu Lake. Know it fairly well : long tarmac road going back in, turning into a wide fairly clear trail. I won’t be going bush-whacking out there. Bit concerned though that the area is known to harbour the 雨傘節 (banded krait). How aggressive are they?

Wondering about seeking out a local herper to go out with first…[/quote]

Ah, apologies, SHE’s gonna love it! :blush:

The reason you want a snake hook is that snakes generally want NOTHING to do with you and will flee at the first opportunity. The hook gives you something to use to control the snake and upon which the snake can crawl over and then rest. They are surprisingly fast, and once they’re in the vegetation, forget about it, they’re gone. Most snakes in Taiwan are arboreal, and very comfortable on perches. Once they’re on a hook, they feel like they’re just on the branch of a tree and most tend to calm down very quickly. I MUCH prefer hooks to tongs for this reason. If you grab a snake with a pair of tongs, it will justifiably feel that it is under attack. This needlessly stresses out the snake, and that’s the last thing you want to do to an animal that will already be stressed to some extent by the flashlight beam and the presence of a large, stinky, noisy and possibly dangerous primate. The place you describe sounds like it would have excellent potential for herping…I hope I can check it out some day! As for kraits, they are EXTREMELY venomous (reputedly #5 most deadly in the world, and the most deadly snake outside of Australia). However, they are famously non-bitey, and while they sometimes lurch quickly at right angles when they’ve been disturbed, I’ve had them run over my feet on several occasions and they never show the slightest inclination to bite. The snakes I’d be more worried about, if I were you, would be the habu, the green tree viper (only because there are so many of them), the cobra and the Russell’s viper. The last one, in particular, is responsible for more deaths in the world than any other snake, and Hualian is known to have them. I’d LOVE to see one, but I’d have a healthy respect for their aggressive nature and lethal venom. I’ve got some friends in Hualian who like to go out looking for snakes…I can put you in touch with them if you like…


#76

OnionSack, which roads/paths/areas would you recommend for a herping night in YMS? and why do you recommend roads without street lights? I thought that some small animals and insects taht would make good snake meals like to go under the lights.

Nuit also asked you about rainy days. One night we camped in a trail in Hualien and a guy who’s into herping told us that the more wet, the more frogs, hence the more chances of spotting (at least certain type of) snakes. I guess that each animal has its own behavior…


#77

[quote=“jesus80”]OnionSack, which roads/paths/areas would you recommend for a herping night in YMS? and why do you recommend roads without street lights? I thought that some small animals and insects taht would make good snake meals like to go under the lights.

Nuit also asked you about rainy days. One night we camped in a trail in Hualian and a guy who’s into herping told us that the more wet, the more frogs, hence the more chances of spotting (at least certain type of) snakes. I guess that each animal has its own behavior…[/quote]

Nocturnal snakes definitely like it the darker the better. In fact, there’s pretty good evidence that snakes are more active when the moon is new rather than full, or on nights when the moon is obscured by cloud cover. I don’t know of any snakes for whom insects make up a significant portion of their diet (Greater Greens do like worms and insect larvae, however) so they wouldn’t be attracted to the “food” provided by street lights, but they WOULD be attracted to the frogs that feed on insects. Still, brightly lit streets never seem to turn up snakes in significant numbers, in my experience. Rain, on the other hand, is GREAT for snakes, for the reason you mentioned: the frogs come out and that brings out the snakes. I’m not really that familiar with herping spots on YMS so I hope others will chime in with good spots. I always think the Zhu Zi Hu area (竹子湖) is a good place to cruise and check the ditches. The Datun forest recreational area is another. My favorite spot is in San Zhi, along the road that leads up to the columbarium. I’m planning on checking that spot out over the Tomb Sweeping holiday…


#78

Where do I go to get hold of a snake hook or two, then?
I tried asking in the local 199, but was met with blank looks :wink:.


#79

[quote=“Nuit”]Where do I go to get hold of a snake hook or two, then?
I tried asking in the local 199, but was met with blank looks :wink:.[/quote]

Haha, yeah, they’re probably like “Hook? Just use a baseball bat to bash 'em!” I got mine shipped in from the States, but you don’t need anything fancy…find an old golf club, break off the business end, and then weld or duct-tape a coat-hanger hook to the end of it. One of my favorite hooks was a gift from a Czech friend of mine who did just that. I know they do sell hooks here, though…I’ll sound out my Taiwanese friends about where they get theirs…


#80

I saw a roadkill today (something like about half a meter and brown) in some road near Linkou. Didn’t stop for a picture because I was riding and wanted the keep the pace, but now I kinda regret.