Reptiles


This river turtle (or terrapin) was huge! I didn’t realise they got as big as this. It was a good 30cm long and obviously heavy — just look at the splash it made when it jumped in. The name “slider” indicates a gentle sliding into the water but this thing launched itself from the rock!
The red-eared slider is an invasive species in Japan and it has become a pest in ponds and rivers. These turtles are native to the southern USA and were first introduced to Japan as pets in the 1950s. When they are young they are relatively easy to keep but once they reach full size they are often released in ponds and rivers. They can live for 30 years or more.

Trachemys scripta elegansTrachemys scripta elegansTrachemys scripta elegansTrachemys scripta elegansTrachemys scripta elegansTrachemys scripta elegans

Reptilia: Testudines: Emydidae
Trachemys scripta elegans
Red-eared slider = mishishippi-aka-mimi-game

Location: River Hikosan in Tagawa (map here)

Today was very special — I found a Japanese pit viper (mamushi)! Every year I keep my eyes peeled for them, and I once found a dead one, but this is the first time I’ve been lucky enough to find a live one. It was just sitting there in the middle of the path in our local forest park (called fureiai-no-mori). As it was only about 40cm long and not so broad, I guess that it was quite young. Fully grown, they don’t get very long but they get much heavier. Anyway, it was an impressive and beautiful creature, and I was very happy to find it.

Gloydius blomhoffiiGloydius blomhoffiiGloydius blomhoffiiGloydius blomhoffiiGloydius blomhoffiiGloydius blomhoffii

Lots of children play in the forest park so I decided that I should take the viper deeper into the forest. I picked it up, put it in my camera bag and took it home first so that I could show my kids. It’s now sitting in a vivarium awaiting its release tomorrow morning. My other reason for transporting it elsewhere is that it has a greater chance of survival. At the moment there are lots of workers in the forest park cutting back the undergrowth and making paths. If any of them found a viper, you can pretty much guarantee they’d kill it!

Gloydius blomhoffiiGloydius blomhoffiiGloydius blomhoffii
Don’t worry, although it looks as if I’m crushing its neck, I was very gentle… but holding tight enough that it wouldn’t be able to bite me! I wanted to get a photo of its fangs but it was too difficult to hold it and the camera and then try to prise its mouth open.

Reptilia: Squamata: Viperidae (kusarihebi)
Gloydius blomhoffii blomhoffii
nihon-mamushi = Japanese pit viper

Location: fureiai-no-mori Forest Park in Munakata (map here)

A great day for snakes! I spotted the black ratsnake in the first photo at the side of the track and took a couple of photos before it slithered off into the grass. Then, only about 100m further down the road, I saw a second ratsnake in the middle of a field. It was a bit bigger than the first one — about 120cm I guess. I almost didn’t bother going into the field as I’d already got plenty of photos of this species, but it looked a bit odd — its body looked crinkly, for want of a better description. As I got nearer, I realised that it had a frog in its mouth and was in the process of unhinging its jaws to swallow the poor thing. I’m pretty pleased with the last photo in the series below. Unfortunately for the snake, and very fortunately for the frog, I got a bit too close and the snake threw the frog from its mouth before shooting off across the field. It’s incredible how fast snakes can move when they want to!

Elaphe quadrivirgataElaphe quadrivirgataElaphe quadrivirgataElaphe quadrivirgata

Reptilia: Ophidia: Colubridae:
Elaphe quadrivirgata
Japanese four-lined ratsnake = shimahebi = karasu-hebi (lit. “crow snake”)

Location: Fields near Akama in Munakata (map here)

This very large skink ran across the road and up the bank just in front of me. I followed it patiently and managed to get a couple of reasonable shots. You can see in the third photo that it has a crooked tail.

Eumeces latiscutatusEumeces latiscutatusEumeces latiscutatus

Reptilia: Squamata: Scincidae (skinks)
Eumeces latiscutatus
nihontokage = Japanese Five-lined Skink (because the young have this pattern)

Location: In the valley below Mt. Yukawa in Munakata (google map)

It was great to find this young ratsnake (aodaisho) in a tree at the side of the path. I’ve seen a couple of other snakes this week, but this is the first I’ve managed to photograph. What a little beauty! The adult looks completely different (see here).

Elaphe climacophoraElaphe climacophoraElaphe climacophora

Reptilia: Squamata: Colubridae (namihebi):
Elaphe climacophora
Japanese Ratsnake = aodaisho

Location: In the valley below Mt. Yukawa in Munakata (google map)

This little tiger keelback (yamakagashi) was sitting in a bush next to the path and allowed me to get close enough for a few good photos.

Rhabdophis tigrinusRhabdophis tigrinusRhabdophis tigrinus

Reptilia: Colubridae: Rhabdophis tigrinus
Tiger Keelback or Japanese Water Snake = yamakagashi

Location: In sweet chestnut grove next to Munakata Common (Google map)

We opened the front door this morning and found these two lizards mating right in the middle of our path – I nearly trod on them! The female appeared to be in a trance (though not quite ecstatic) while the male was so busy holding on that he ignored us completely.

Takydromus tachydromoidesTakydromus tachydromoides

Reptilia: Squamata (scaled reptiles): Lacertilia (lizards): Lacertidae (wall lizards)
Japanese Grass Lizard: Takydromus tachydromoides (nihon kanahebi)

Location: Munakata Common (Google map)

The kids spotted these lizards when we were out for a nature walk near one of the local villages. We couldn’t decide whether they were mating or fighting, but I assume that it’s the former. Either way, they were so engrossed in what they were doing, that we were able to move the grass to one side in order to take photos. Their only reaction was to unentangle the tips of their tails. Lucky for them that we weren’t hungry egrets!

Takydromus tachydromoidesTakydromus tachydromoides

Reptilia: Squamata (scaled reptiles): Lacertilia (lizards): Lacertidae (wall lizards)
Japanese Grass Lizard: Takydromus tachydromoides (nihon kanahebi)

Location: Near Yokoyama Village (Google map)

I was surprised at the number of lizards in the garden this year, and then the kids gave me the explanation. The kids next door had collected about 20 from their garden and other places, but their mother didn’t want them in her garden (for some strange reason), so they released the whole lot into our garden! I’m quite happy with all the extra lizards of course!

Takydromus tachydromoidesTakydromus tachydromoides

Reptilia: Squamata (scaled reptiles): Lacertilia (lizards): Lacertidae (wall lizards)
Japanese Grass Lizard: Takydromus tachydromoides (nihon kanahebi)

This common Japanese gecko (nihon yamori) jumped into the living room when I opened the window. We lost it for a few days but it eventually showed up in the bedroom, so I let it go in the garden.

Gekko japonicusGekko japonicusGekko japonicusGekko japonicus

Japanese gecko (nihon yamori)
Gekko japonicus

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