Madagascar – Critters – Serpents!

Well, looky here! I’m back! I really must apologise for the huge delay in the continuation of these posts. I’ll try and make up for the lost time. Luckily, the photography has been slow lately, so I figure I can probably catch up!

anyways, in this instalment, i’ll be bringing to you…

Serpentes!

Collubridae

Right, so, Madagascar is home to a large number of snakes, all of which are endemic, and none of which are venemous (per se, though some, such as Madagascarophis colubrinus can cause mild envenomations which, if allergic, can become severe). Of course, the largest family of snakes in the world are the collubrids, and the following are photos of the ones that we found:

Ithycyphus miniatus

Ithycyphus

D300 + 105mm VR @ 1/500s f/3.5

These guys were absolutely everywhere! Gorgeous snakes. Apparently they eat frogs. So not so happy. But beautiful to handle and measure. Completely laid back.

Bibilava lateralis

Bibilaava

D300 + 105mm VR + R1 flash unit @ 1/60s f/8

An amazing and adorable snake. Difficult to catch, but stunning to look at. When they breathe in, white sacks along their centre expand, giving them white stripes.

Stenophis variabilis

Clamber

D300 + 105mm VR @ 1/250s f/3

Curves

D300 + 105mm VR @ 1/320s f/3

Relax

D300 + 105mm VR @ 1/100s f/3.2

Crescent

D300 + 105mm VR @ 1/250s f/4

This is a truly stunning species. True-treesnakes, these serpents will almost never venture to the floor. We got extremely lucky one night and found one just on the border of the camp. Quite an experience, I must say!

Mimophis mahafalensis

Dry grass

D300 + 105mm VR @ 1/500s f/4

This species is everywhere. Unfortunately we found one that was flat as a board, which had been crushed by a tyre or something in the middle of the road. Pain to catch though.

Madagascarophis colubrinus

Oh HAI

D300 + 105mm VR @ 1/1000s f/3.3

Unknown

Teensy

D300 + 105mm VR @ 1/125s f/11

It’s actually not that I don’t know what species this is, more that I can’t remember and don’t have my version of Glaw and Vences yet (The authorative guide to Madagascars herps). Anyways, this is the fourth individual of this species ever to have been found it would seem. Amazing little snake.

There are two other species not shown here, Leioheterodon madagascariensis and L. modestus, but the photos aren’t that great. The interesting this is that the L. modestus represents a range extension, which I have yet to contact Glaw and Vences about. On the to-do list it goes!

Boidae

The really exciting thing about Madagascar in terms of its biodiversity is the presence of boas. Mainland Africa has pythons, while South America has boas. The crucial difference is that Boas are vivparous – they give birth to live young – while pythons are oviparous – they lay eggs.

There are three species of boas in Madagascar, two of which we found single individuals of:

Acrantophis madagsacariensis

Nuzzle

D300 + 105mm VR @ 1/160s f/8

Tongue!

D300 + 105mm VR @ 1/1600s f/3.5

Kinks

D300 + 105mm VR @ 1/1600s f/3.5

Sssssnake

D300 + 105mm VR @ 1/2000s f/3.5

Big-head

D300 + 105mm VR @ 1/1600s f/3.5

Amazing snake, this one was found by the president of our forest. We were informed about it as it slithered through his crops, and Robbie and I went to pick it up. Its sides were badly scarred, but it was a beaut anyways.

Sanzinia madagascariensis

Robbie's beaut

D300 + 105mm VR + R1 flash unit @ 1/60s f/3.5

Patterns

D300 + 105mm VR + R1 flash unit @ 1/60s f/11

Looming

D300 + 105mm VR + R1 flash unit @ 1/60s f/11

Recurve

D300 + 105mm VR + R1 flash unit @ 1/60s f/3

Au Naturelle

D300 + 105mm VR + R1 flash unit @ 1/60s f/4

Posed

D300 + 105mm VR + R1 flash unit @ 1/60s f/8

Blue tongue!

D300 + 105mm VR + R1 flash unit @ 1/60s f/9

This perfect snake was brought to us by a farmer from a field which apparently was some distance away. It is a Madagascar tree boa, and a beautiful specimen. It is remarkable how different the colouration of these northern individuals is from that of the individuals we found in Mantadia in 2006.

And that’s just about it! Good to be back in the rhythm again! keep your eyes peeled, the next instalment will be… Geckos!

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