During the weeks I stayed in Chiang Mai I made sure to do a good bit of city herping. Though Chiang Mai isn’t as built up as Bangkok, the assemblage of reptiles and amphibians that can be found in the area is quite similar. Whether an area looks like good wildlife habitat or not, there’s a good chance there will be some herps there if you look close enough.
The guesthouse we stayed at had the typical lizard and frog diversity. Both of the common agamid species and the most common skink species were around:
I flipped this gecko just before flipping an Asian Giant Honeybee nest.
Various common species of frogs could be found under objects during the day:
At one point a gardener knocked on my room to tell me he’d found a snake (I’d gotten a reputation by this point). It was actually a caecilian hiding in the long grass! Quite an unexpected find for the daytime. The caecilian had been partially injured by the gardener’s grass-cutting, but the injury was very superficial and I had hope that it would make it.
The occasional snakes that passed through the property were a treat. I caught an Assam Mountain Snake – unfortunately when I didn’t have my camera around! I had other people report to me that they saw a Sunbeam Snake (I later found one that had died naturally) and some species of kukri snake. The property owner had seen two pythons (a 9-footer and a 14-footer) in his ten years there. But the only snake species I got pictures of were the Golden Tree Snakes, of which I saw several.
Here’s a few diurnal arthropods from the area:
At night the geckos came out.
There were also a few more frog species at night, especially around the fish ponds.
The best spot for amphibians was a small temporary marsh just across the street from the guesthouse. During the tail end of the rainy season there were several species of frogs breeding in it.
Quite surprisingly, in this marsh I spotted a hybrid between a Chinese Edible Frog and an American Bullfrog. Hybrids like this are a result of the frog farming industry, and may be a threat to local wildlife.
One night I flipped two boards on the edge of a marsh. The second one had a gorgeous caecilian under it! I’d seen over twenty DOR caecilians in northern Thailand by this point, but it is always exciting to find a live one. It was a beautiful specimen too.
At night I would take bike rides into the countryside in order to look for snakes. Unfortunately, despite a lot of time staring at maps and Google Earth looking for good habitat, I could never find a live snake. I think there was just too much traffic. I saw dead-on-the-road Sunbeam Snakes, Rainbow Water Snakes, Yellow-bellied Water Snakes, and Yellow-spotted Keelbacks. But the only live things I saw were frogs, arthropods, and 0.5 seconds of a caecilian.
Why only 0.5 seconds?
I was riding my bike down a road and let a car pass me. As it passed, I took advantage of its headlights to see…a caecilian crossing the road. I internally screamed “NOOOOOO!!!” as the car nailed it. The caecilian was still alive when I got up to it, but died seconds later. Of the 30+ caecilians I’ve seen, 2 were alive and intact, 2 were injured and may have died later, this one died, and the other 30 or so were already dead on the road.
Yellow-striped Caecilian (Ichthyophis kohtaoensis)
Here are a few invertebrates seen on my night explorations:
One of the last things I did during our visit was dig out a huge mulch pile of lawn waste. Some of the guesthouse workers had seen a snake (most likely a rat snake) disappear into the pile. We didn’t find the snake – but we did dig up a few small frogs, some invertebrates, and this caecilian:
A nice way to end my time in Chiang Mai!