Friday, 30 September 2011

Shield-Tailed Snake

Yes, it's another snake. But this time, a live one! My dad brought home this weird-looking snake in a bottle from the same plot of land where we spotted the caecilians. As always, everyone thought it was a highly venomous species. But the problem was, I couldn't tell if it was venomous or not, for I was seeing a snake like this for the first time!

You might probably be thinking that the raised end of the snake is its head. That's what I thought as well. But I was wrong! After having touched the snake with a twig, it started slithering 'backwards'. That was when I noticed a tiny white tongue appear from its 'tail'. At that moment I knew this was a form of defense- the blunt tail appeared to be the head and the narrow head appeared as a tail! Here's a video of the snake. We might have frightened the snake, but don't worry, it was not harmed!

After doing some research, I figured it out that this was a species of Shield-Tailed Snake, a nocturnal, burrowing snake rarely encountered as it spends most of its life underground. They are non-venomous, so I went up close and took some shots, as I didn't have to fear about dying if I get bitten. A shot of the snake slithering out of the bottle.

The blunt tail. These tails are strong and built as a 'shield' to absorb attacks from predators, as they usually mistake the tail for the head. That's how they get their name- Shield-Tailed Snakes.

Close-up of the narrow head. It seemed like it was about time for the snake to shed its skin.

I had a hard time photographing this snake as it wouldn't always stay still. The flash always got reflected by the shiny skin as well. Hence I couldn't manage any shots I was completely satisfied with.

I got the snake into my aquarium and let it dig into the moist soil. As evening drew near, I got snake out and released it into ditch a few hundred metres away from my house. I was glad I got to see a snake I hadn't seen before, and not dead!


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