Monday, May 28, 2007

My Encounter With Malaysian Wildlife: The Flying Snake

I was walking home from school on Friday, when I saw one of the cats that hang around climbing up the chain link fence in the parking lot, intent on something. Something had caught these stupid cats attention, which with these cats could only mean a potential meal. When I Say stupid, I mean stupid. They all look the same, so they probably are inbred, with some inborn mental defect. Usually, I don't mind cats, but for some reason I have a hatred for these particular ones. Probably because they serve no useful function, other than laying around by or in the dumpster, gorging themselves on the garbage when the monkeys aren't picking through it, and walking around like you don't belong in their apartment complex.

One of them had climbed up the links on the fence, and was looking intently at something. The others were sitting there waiting for their pal to bring it to them. Feeling the way I do about these cats, of course I had to go investigate, and shoo them away.

What was it that had them so fascinated?

It was a snake, a long thin one. I didn't want it to become their next meal, as they are fed well enough from all the garbage they eat from the dumpster that they don't need to torture and eat what might potentially be an endangered species. I chased them away several times, then ran upstairs to get my camera so I could get some pictures before they came back and the snake was eaten, or otherwise disappeared.

I ran in the apartment, and grabbed the camera. Trien asked what I was doing, and knowing the way she feels about snakes, I just said I had to get a couple of pictures of something downstairs. If I had told her that I was going to take pictures of a rather long snake in the parking lot, she would never leave our apartment again.

I was in luck. When I came down, the cats were gone, and the snake was happily making its way along the top of the fence. I was able to get as many pictures as I wanted. The snake watched me. It was wary, but not threatening or aggressive. Still, I didn't get too close to it, or try to be Steve Irwin.

I was careful, because didn't know what kind of snake it was. Here in Malaysia, snakes of all different types are plentiful. We have everything here from 9 meter long pythons, to king cobras, vipers, you name it. I am no herpetologist, so as far as I knew it could have been an extremely poisonous carpet viper or something like that.

Later on when Trien and I came down to get something to eat, the snake was gone. It was only after I saw it was gone that I told her what I had been doing. I showed her the first picture of the snake, and she refused to see any more.

I don't know if the stupid cats got it, or it climbed up in the tree, but it wasn't there anymore. While Trien has gotten over her fear of monitor lizards, and even enjoys watching them swim in the Lake Gardens, snakes are a different thing. The mere mention of one sends shudders up her spine.

Later on, I went to the Internet cafe, to see if I could find out what kind of snake it was, and if it was poisonous.

What was it?

As far as I can tell, it was flying tree snake, specifically a paradise tree snake. They are not poisonous to humans, only to geckos and the other small prey they feed on.

Their unique feature is that they can flatten out their bodies, and fly from tree to tree.

Later on, when I told Trien that it was a flying tree snake, she recognized it right away. She said that when she was growing up, there were many of them in the trees in and around her village..

No wonder she is so scared of snakes. I would be, too, if the snakes around my house came flying out of the trees!