This Month in Snakes (Already)

The fact that it’s been barely a week into June and I’m already doing one of these should tell you something.

I live on the ground floor of a three-story apartment-like building. The stairs are outdoors, connecting balconies to the patio. As I stepped outside one day, I narrowly missed getting beaned by a shoe that dropped out of the sky. Several more followed. Even in rainy season, shoes are a bit much, so I investigated, calling out if everything was alright. I was answered by the grandmother of the family who lives onsite and does the cooking and housekeeping, calling from the top floor. “Come help me deal with this snake!”

What snake? Oh, this snake.

A young rat snake (Senticolis triaspis) had crawled onto the landing of the top floor, effectively trapping the old lady. She was flinging her shoes at it to get it to move, to no effect. I stepped in, and later used the snake for a quick snake-handling lesson with some of the other staff.

This little fella’s a Roadguarder (Crisantophis nevermanni), although something’s snipped off the end of its tail. These are venomous, but the venom is very mild and their fangs are short. I’ve never been bitten, and this one didn’t even try.

He did musk me, though.

I’ve been seeing so many cat-eyed snakes (Leptodeira) out at night that I’ve stopped documenting them. I just hope no one mistakes them for something dangerous. Also unphotographed: an oriole snake (Spilotes pulatus) that crawled right past my window while I was in a video call. I can’t make this stuff up.

I admit this one’s from a while back, and I forgot to ever post it. I just today found the photo on my phone. I’m not 100% sure, but I think it’s a coffee snake (Ninia maculata) a very small and discrete species that are often uncovered by farmers working in coffee fields.

Thus the name, in case you were wondering.

And we’ve got fer-de-lance #20 (only counting ones on the property that I had to catch and relocate), this one found right outside the clinic within spitting distance of where we work. As in, less than an arm’s length from where people had their actual arms. God knows how many long it had been there. I only spotted it when I happened to glance up as I was leaving. I called everyone in for a morbid game of Eye Spy, then performed the smoothest capture in my career. Hook—box. The snake was perfectly calm and cooperate.

Imagine playing this game like your life depends on it. 

Can’t see it? Here’s a closeup.

You lose.

It’s probably the rains that’s causing all these snake encounters. I remember last year around this time we were averaging several snakes a day, and a viper every two weeks. Rising water and flash floods fills in burrows and sends ground-dwelling reptiles for dry cover. Wet Season, y’all. Frogs are also a good food source for some species, and the rains tend to wake them up.

Frogs, and other sleepy amphibians.

But we’ve got a major storm cell headed our way. The last few days have been absolutely tipping down. So if weather is any indication, we’re going to be getting a whole lot more of these.

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