A Wagler Tail


Some snakes (like the Twin-barred Tree Snake) in MacRitchie are harmless. Some (like the Malayan Blue Coral Snake, also known as the 100-foot snake for the fact that after it bites you, you can only walk 100 feet before keeling over and dying), are, to put not too fine a point, not. Nevertheless they are grossly overestimated – to keel over and die after a bite from the Malayan Blue Coral Snake, it has to find some way to nip the thin skin between your fingers. If you’re not touching the reptile to begin with, it’s somehat hard for that to happen. And some are just plain dangerous. Ergo, pit vipers.

Pit vipers are some of the most dangerous and beautiful snakes in the whole freakin’ world. Blessed (for them, at least; not for their prey) with heat-sensing pits between their nostrils and eyes (Tropidolaemus wagleri) that enable them to detect minute changes in temperature in their environment, they’re highly efficient hunting machines. And they are twice-blessed with the best virtue any hunter can wish for: they can wait.

Boy, they can wait.

To give you an idea of just how long they can wait, this particular pit viper had been seen the day before. How we knew? It was in the exact same place.

For forty-eight hours, the snake had not moved.

And it continued not to move, even after being surrounded by a group of eager visitors to MacRitchie, giving us all a disdainful view of its tail.

Yesterday, it had been its head glaring at the group, and I can’t say I’m disappointed about the change.

(For another post on a different species of pit viper native to Singapore’s mangroves, check out my post on Somewhere Up A Tree. This walk was hosted by the BES Drongos.)

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