My first decent photo of a Snake from Malta

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My first decent photo of a Snake from Malta

Post by MWP admin » Wed Mar 12, 2008 9:43 am

It was always my challange to photograph a snake in the wild. They are often well hidden or camoflaged (->spelling!) with the surrounding, and when you are near they escape quickly in the grass without having a chance. Finally I spotted on on a pine tree and did all my best to take the camera from the bag and got a decent photo (btw, the extremely slow operation to take out the camera and shoot took some 5 mins!) After taking the photo the snake vanished away!

I did not yet have time to identify the species and gender, but it should not be difficult

PS: the only phobia that I reckon to have is snakes. The fact that they are hidden in the grass or stones, nd that I can step on one and get bitten makes me very nervous sometimes!
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Post by RB » Wed Mar 12, 2008 9:58 am

Juvenile "serp iswed" - Gender?? No way!

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Post by MWP admin » Wed Mar 12, 2008 10:32 am

"juvenile" - Maybe you are right but I want to point out in case it does not show on the photo, that the reptile was fairly long and relatively thick (as an adult). I saw small "serp iswed" about 30-40cm long, fully black, and thumb-finger thick. So when I met this snake I got the idea to be an adult, but I may be wrong since I do not have much knowledge on the subject
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Post by RB » Wed Mar 12, 2008 2:36 pm

Looks pretty small in the pic (scaling the head size) and they normally are that colour at that size, I don't think that I ever saw a small black one, and I have handled PLENTY.

There are not many options, only other snakes are the leopard snake (very, very distinctive markings), cat snake (again, and normally slightly smaller, plus nocturnal) and the rare algerian, distinctive markings yet again.

Snakes are easy!

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Post by MWP admin » Wed Mar 12, 2008 4:36 pm

Mela it should be the Black whip snake without doubt, but I have seen black ones smaller and of course much larger! (brrrr!!! )


Some info about the Black Whip Snake:
(from: http://www.geocities.com/RainForest/3096/snakes.html )

Coluber viridiflavus carbonarius (Bonaparte, 1833)
Black Whip Snake
Maltese: Serp iswed

Size: Up to two metres long.

Colouration: Dorsally the adult is black but juveniles are a dark green marked with grey and dark brown; ventraklly white to yellowish white. The different colouration at different ages has led some previous naturalists to think that this species was represented in the Maltese Islands by two subspecies - carbonarius and the nominative - viridiflavus.
Biology: This snake is very lively and often climbs trees in search of food. It hunts around mid-day and feeds on lizards, skinks, geckos, rats, mice, frogs, and the young and eggs of ground or tree-nesting birds. The Whip Snake lives in rock cracks and under rubble. When cornered it strikes and bites furiously. The animal hibernates during the winter months.

Records: A very widespread species recorded from Malta, Gozo and Comino.
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Post by RB » Wed Mar 12, 2008 7:55 pm

They are quite "nice" if you know how to handle them. The smaller ones, you can let them bite you as they will only draw less than a scratch's worth of blood, the bigger ones you need to be a bit more careful because they can be a bit nippy. Once handled they tend to relax a bit and concentrate less on biting.

Leopard snake is very beautiful too and does not grow so large, has boa-like brown patches, when younger the base colour is greenish, so the contrast is striking.

Algerian grows but seems to be rare, only time I saw one was at night crossing the road, tan coloured with crosswise dorsal markings.

Cat snake (T. fallax) is encountered mainly when it is unlucky enough to make an appearance indoors, this is Malta's only poisonous snake, and has slitty yellow eyes hence the "cat" part of the name. It's markings are like a chequerboard.

Whenever I see a snake I tend to go for it just to take a close look, say hello and then bye 8) as previously posted once I forgot I was not in Malta and I nearly grabbed a viper in Sicily :shock:

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Post by jackpot » Thu Mar 20, 2008 7:10 pm

I think this is the same one?
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Post by RB » Thu Mar 20, 2008 8:06 pm

Yes

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Post by Conchiolin » Sat Mar 22, 2008 3:21 pm

Yay a coluber! I love those forked-tounge b**tards they keep the rat population low! They are beneficial creatures but can sometimes be a bit troublesome too.
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Post by MWP admin » Sat Mar 22, 2008 5:59 pm

Have anyone been bitten by this snake? I am sure that soon or later I will eventually step on one. They flee just when I am 1 or 2 steps away and I seldom notice them when they are basking. As you know, there is always few lame ones in the population so probably it is a question of time!

I would like to be prepared in anticipaion of the consequences.
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Post by RB » Mon Mar 24, 2008 1:43 am

MWP admin wrote:Have anyone been bitten by this snake?
Plenty of times, and it is most unlikely that you will be unless you are determined to get bitten!

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Post by MWP admin » Tue Mar 25, 2008 7:49 pm

"Plenty of times" but "most unlikely" bitten :?: Do you have some snake attractor perfume !!
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Post by robcar » Tue Mar 25, 2008 8:28 pm

Unless you try to capture them or handle them you will not be bitten. They will only bite if captured or cornered with no means of escape.

Rest assured that the two legged serpent is a far more dangerous creature, and there are a number of these around!

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Post by RB » Tue Mar 25, 2008 8:59 pm

robcar wrote:Unless you try to capture them or handle them you will not be bitten.
Exactly. Must have missed previous "new posts" and did not reply to MWP.

I have been bitten because I have a habit of wanting to take a closer look... or even just moving them to a safer place... generally not appreciated by the subjects :shock:

I would be a bit more wary of Telescopus fallax (Cat snake) because of their poisonous bite, and also be particularly careful of any super-sized Coluber, but the only really big one I saw (appx 5ft) was unfortunately DOA.

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