September 2005


This site is primarily for nature in Japan, but I will also occasionally include photos from trips to other countries. This summer I went to Langkawi in Malaysia and found all sorts of wildlife there. I took a total of about 2,000 photos (most of which I deleted!) and I have put a selection on a special page. Please take a look at it.

hornbill in Langkawimonitor lizard

On my way to work this morning I took the black ratsnake that I’d caught yesterday and released it back into the field. I wanted to get a photo of me holding it, so that you’d be able to see how big it was, and luckily someone else stopped in the parking area next to the field. He was a bit surprised to see a foreigner standing there holding a snake (!) but readily agreed to take a photo. Then I put the snake down and watched as he slithered into the undergrowth. What a wonderful sight! There were plenty of frogs croaking away so I’m sure that he will find lots to eat and grow even bigger. I hope I get to see him again in a few weeks.

Elaphe quadrivirgata (karasu hebi)Elaphe quadrivirgata (karasu hebi)Elaphe quadrivirgata (karasu hebi)Elaphe quadrivirgata (karasu hebi)

I went out looking for snakes this morning, armed with a cloth sack and gloves (because I’m a wimp!) and actually managed to catch a black ratsnake or “crow snake” (karasuhebi) in a field about 500m from the house. This is the same species as the four-lined ratsnake (shimahebi), but is almost completely black. This specimen was about one meter long, so probably not a fully grown adult (they grow to almost 2m apparently), but still got my heart beating rapidly when I caught it. I put it into the cloth sack and took it home to show the kids. We’ll keep it in a terrarium overnight and then I will release it in the same spot tomorrow morning.
Karasuhebi (Elaphe quadrivirgata)Karasuhebi (Elaphe quadrivirgata)
This snake’s defense behavior is a bit like a rattlesnake: it curls up with its tail vibrating (making an audible noise despite the absence of a rattle) and then it strikes with its mouth open, for all the world like a venemous snake. I had to persuade myself that it wasn’t venomous before I could grab it!! Then, when I did have a hold of the snake, it used its second line of defense which is to spray urine/feces (at least I think that’s what it was). Anyway, what a beautiful creature, just perfectly adapted to its environment, sneaking around the edges of fields catching frogs and mice.