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Meet The Anaconda

iPhoneOgraphy – 03 Nov 2016 (Day 308/366)

Anacondas are group of large snakes of the genus Eunectes. They are large snakes found in tropical South America. Four species are currently recognized.

Although the name applies to a group of snakes, it is often used to refer only to one species in particular, the common or green anaconda (Eunectes murinus) which is the largest snake in the world by weight, and the second longest.

The South American names anacauchoa and anacaona were suggested in an account by Peter Martyr d’Anghiera but the idea of a South American origin was questioned by Henry Walter Bates who, in his travels in South America, failed to find any similar name in use. The word anaconda is derived from the name of a snake from Ceylon (Sri Lanka) that John Rayburn described in Latin in his Synopsis Methodica Animalium (1693) as serpens indicus bubalinus anacandaia zeylonibus, ides bubalorum aliorumque jumentorum membra conterens. Ray used a catalogue of snakes from the Leyden museum supplied by Dr. Tancred Robinson, but the description of its habit was based on Andreas Cleyer who in 1684 described a gigantic snake that crushed large animals by coiling and crushing their bones. Henry Yule in his Hobson-Jobson notes that the word became more popular due to a piece of fiction published in 1768 in the Scots Magazine by a certain R. Edwin. Edwin described a tiger being crushed and killed by an anaconda when in fact tigers never occurred in Sri Lanka. Yule and Frank Wall noted that the snake was in fact a python and suggested a Tamil origin anai-kondra meaning elephant killer. A Sinhalese origin was also suggested by Donald Ferguson who pointed out that the word Henakandaya (hena lightning/large and kandastem/trunk) was used in Sri Lanka for the small whip snake (Ahaetulla pulverulenta) and somehow got misapplied to the python before myths were created.

The name commonly used for the anaconda in Brazil is sucuri, sucuriju or sucuriuba.

Shot & Edited using iPhone 6+

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Hide & Seek with Crotalus Atrox

iPhoneOgraphy – 21 Oct 2016 (Day 295/366)

Crotalus atrox, the western diamondback rattlesnake, is a venomous rattlesnake species found in the United States and Mexico. It is likely responsible for the majority of snakebite fatalities in northern Mexico and the second-greatest number in the U.S., after C. adamanteus. No subspecies is currently recognized.

Adults commonly grow to 120 cm (4 ft) in length. Specimens over 150 cm (5 ft) are infrequently encountered, while those over 180 cm (6 ft) are very rare. The maximum reported length considered to be reliable is 213 cm (7 ft). Males become much larger than females, although this difference in size does not occur until after they have reached sexual maturity. Rattlesnakes of this species considered medium-sized weighed 1.8 to 2.7 kg (4 to 6 lb), while very large specimens can reportedly weigh up to 6.7 kg (15 lb).

The color pattern generally consists of a dusty-looking gray-brown ground color, but it may also be pinkish-brown, brick red, yellowish, pinkish, or chalky white. This ground color is overlaid dorsally with a series of 24-25 dorsal body blotches that are dark gray-brown to brown in color. The first of these may be a pair of short stripes that extend backwards to eventually merge. Some of the first few blotches may be somewhat rectangular, but then become more hexagonal and eventually take on a distinctive diamond shape hence the name “Diamondback rattlesnake” . The tail has two to eight (usually four to six) black bands separated by ash white or pale gray interspaces; this led to the nickname of “coon tail”, though other species (e.g. Mojave rattlesnake) have similarly banded tails. Its postocular stripe is smoky gray or dark gray-brown and extends diagonally from the lower edge of the eye across the side of the head. This stripe is usually bordered below by a white stripe running from the upper preocular scale down to the supralabial scales just below and behind the eye. Its off-white belly is usually unmarked, its anal scale is undivided, and its dorsal scales are extremely keeled, often in rows of 25 to 27 near the midbody.

The wide range of this species overlaps, or is close to, that of many others. It may be confused with them, but differences exist. The Mohave rattlesnake, C. scutulatus, also has tail rings, but the black rings are narrow relative to the pale ones. The timber rattlesnake, C. horridus, has no tail rings. In the western rattlesnake, C. oreganus, the pale tail rings are the same color as the ground. The tail of the black-tailed rattlesnake, C. molossus, is a uniform black, or has indistinct tail rings. The Mexican west coast rattlesnake, C. basiliscus, also has a mostly dark tail with obscure or absent rings. The tiger rattlesnake, C. tigris, has a relatively small head and large rattle along with a dorsal pattern consisting more of crossbands. The Middle American rattlesnake, C. simus, has a generally uniform gray tail without any rings, as well as a pair of distinctive paravertebral stripes running down the neck. Members of the genus Sistrurus lack tail rings and have enlarged head plates.

C. atrox are solitary except during the mating season. Usually inactive between late October and early March, occasionally these ectotherms may be seen basking in the sun on warm winter days. In the winter, they hubernate or brumate in caves or burrows, sometimes with many other species of snakes. Life expectancy is more than 20 years.

They are poor climbers. Natural predators include raptors such as hawks, eagles, roadrunners, wild hogs, and other snakes. When threatened, they usually coil and rattle to warn aggressors. They are one of the more aggressive rattlesnakes in the US in the way that they stand their ground when confronted by a foe. If rattling does not work, then the snake will strike in defense.

Shot & Edited using iPhone 6+

The Shy Morelia Spilota

iPhoneOgraphy – 20 Oct 2016 (Day 294/366)

Morelia spilota, commonly referred to as carpet python and diamond pythons, is a large snake of the family Pythonidae found in Australia, New Guinea (Indonesia and Papua New Guinea), Bismarck Archipelago, and the northern Solomon Islands.

Morelia spilota is a large species of python in the genus, reaching between 2 to 4 metres (6.6 to 13.1 ft) in length and weighing up to 15 kilograms (33 lb). M. s. mcdowelli is the largest subspecies, regularly attaining lengths of 2.7–3 m (8.9–9.8 ft). M. s. variegata is the smallest subspecies, averaging 120–180 cm (3.9–5.9 ft) in length. The average adult length is roughly 2 metres (6.6 ft). However, one 3-year-old captive male M. s. mcdowelli, measured in Ireland, was found to exceed 396 cm (12.99 ft). Males are typically smaller than females; in some regions females are up to four times heavier. The head is triangular with a conspicuous row of thermoreceptive labial pits.

The colouring of Morelia spilota is highly variable, ranging from olive to black with white or cream and gold markings. The patterning may be roughly diamond shaped or have intricate markings made up of light and dark bands on a background of gray or a version of brown.

Described as semi-arboreal, they are largely nocturnal, climbing trees and shrubs as well as crossing open areas such as rock faces, forest floors and even roads. However, basking behaviour is commonly observed.

Occurs in a wide variety of habitats, from the rainforests of northeastern Queensland (M. s. cheynei) through the River Red Gum/Riverbox woodlands of the Murray and Darling Rivers (M. s. metcalfei), to the arid, treeless islands of the Nuyts Archipelago off the South Australian west coast (M. s. imbricata). They are often found near human habitation where they perform a useful service by eating rats and other vermin. Morelia spilota is known to occur in areas that receive snowfall. Morelia spilota are (semi-arboreal) tree snakes; they do not completely rely on trees, however, and are capable of moving around elsewhere. Morelia spilota are also found in temperate grasslands with hot and dry weather.

The first description of Morelia spilota was by Lacépède (1804), who placed it in the genus Coluber as Coluber spilotus. The species has since been described by various authors as containing a number of subspecies and hybrids, these have also been known by various informal names. The attempted arrangement of taxa in this, and other, Australasian Pythonidae has produced numerous synonyms. The discrete and roaming habits of this species have produced a low number of recorded specimens, giving inadequate sample numbers to support descriptions of a taxon’s morphology. This is the case with proposed names which are sometimes cited, such as the Papuan Morelia spilota harrisoni (Hoser), despite being unaccepted or invalid. Common names are regional variants of carpet and diamond python or snake.

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The Powerful Pythonidae 

iPhoneOgraphy – 19 Oct 2016 (Day 293/366)

The Pythonidae, commonly known simply as pythons, from the Greek word python (πυθων), are a family of nonvenomous snakes found in Africa, Asia, and Australia. Among its members are some of the largest snakes in the world. Eight genera and 31 species are currently recognized.

Most members of this family are ambush predators, in that they typically remain motionless in a camouflaged position, and then strike suddenly at passing prey. They will generally not attack humans unless startled or provoked, although females protecting their eggs can be aggressive. Reports of attacks on human beings were once more common in South and Southeast Asia, but are now quite rare.

Pythons use their sharp, backward-curving teeth, four rows in the upper jaw, two in the lower, to grasp prey which is then killed by constriction; after an animal has been grasped to restrain it, the python quickly wraps a number of coils around it. Death occurs primarily by asphyxiation; some research has suggested that pressures produced during constriction may cause cardiac arrest by interfering with blood flow, but this hypothesis has not been confirmed.

Larger specimens usually eat animals about the size of a house cat, but larger food items are known; some large Asian species have been known to take down adult deer, and the African rock python, Python sebae, has been known to eat antelope. All prey is swallowed whole, and may take several days or even weeks to fully digest.

Contrary to popular belief, even the larger species, such as the reticulated python, P. reticulatus, do not crush their prey to death; in fact, prey is not even noticeably deformed before it is swallowed. The speed with which the coils are applied is impressive and the force they exert may be significant, but death is caused by suffocation, with the victim not being able to move its ribs to breathe while it is being constricted.

All snakes, including pythonids, are descended from a venomous ancestor. Although the mandibular and maxillary glands of pythonids are primarily mucus-secreting, they also produce small quantities of toxins that are also known from venomous lizards and caenophidian snakes, including three-finger toxins (3FTx), lectin toxins, and veficolin toxins. The presence of not only these, but also other toxins in the snake Cylinddophis ruffus, as well as iguanas and monitor lizards, indicates that the production of small amounts of toxins by pythonids is a relic of once better-developed venom system that pythonids and boids have down-regulated, presumably because they developed powerful constriction as an alternative means of killing their prey, leaving them with little need for a venom.

Females lay eggs (oviparous). This sets them apart from the family Boidae (boas), most of which bear live young (ovoviviparous). After they lay their eggs, females typically incubate them until they hatch. This is achieved by causing the muscles to “shiver”, which raises the temperature of the body to a certain degree, and thus that of the eggs. Keeping the eggs at a constant temperature is essential for healthy embryo development. During the incubation period, females will not eat and only leave to bask to raise their body temperature.

Pythons are more closely related to boas than to any other snake family. Boulenger (1890) considered this group to be a subfamily (Pythoninae) of the family Boidae (boas).

Shot & Edited using iPhone 6+

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