One new place I was able to search during the rainy season was a marshy area off of Ram 2 where a Thai friend of mine had invited us to stay for a week. I had herped the area in the daytime and found the Long-nosed Whip Snake that I mentioned in an earlier story, as well as a number of other reptiles and amphibians. It looked like a perfect spot to look for water snakes in night searches, but I had never been able to get there after dark, so I was excited about staying a few nights.
I had the time to go walking the roads and ditches near the home on a couple times. In the first couple hours after dusk, I mostly saw frogs:
The local park had a pond that was loaded with Malayan Snail-eating Turtles of all ages.
It wasn’t until my third walk of the night (about 10:30pm) that I scored my first snake. But it as a great one – a live Sunbeam Snake! This is an odd species that I’d been looking for for months and was excited to finally find alive:
They’re not related to any other group of snakes – they have an entire family just to themselves. I’m not sure why their scales have such an iridescent quality, but it was cool to look at. The unusual head was also neat. Despite lunging around quite a bit and sometimes twitching suddenly, it never once opened its mouth or tried to bite.
The next night I saw only frogs in my first walk out, but struck a snake almost immediately when I went out a second time at 10pm.
I spent more time flipping over objects this night, and was rewarded with a couple more snakes:
Another Sunbeam Snake
The large species of centipede, called the “Vietnamese Centipede” (Scolopendra subspinipes) was also common here – these guys can easily reach a foot long. This one is eating a snail.
Later I made one more trip to the Ram 2 area. The only snake I saw this night was a Yellow-spotted Keelback. The first time I saw it, it disappeared into the marsh before I could get a picture. I’d never seen an adult Yellow-spotted Keelback in Bangkok before, and I really wanted to record it. So I waited an hour, then came back. As I slowly tramped through the long grass on the edge of the marsh, I spotted it again! This time I was able to grab it and place it on the sidewalk for pictures.
Unfortunately, while I was carrying it back it bit me. Really, really hard. Yellow-spotted Keelbacks are some of the nastiest-biting snakes out there, and this was no exception. I didn’t want to hurt the snake’s teeth, so he managed to get in a little extra twist before I carefully pried his mouth off. I obviously wasn’t going to wash the blood off in the marsh water, so by the time I had walked to a clean water source, my arm was looking pretty bad:
The appearance is far worse than the actuality – the bite really didn’t hurt that much, and the wound was small, it just bled a bit. Still, it was by far the worst snakebite I’ve ever had (I’ve been very careful never to get bitten by a venomous species).
What a way to end the night!