China post #57 - Japan

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Kevin Messenger
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China post #57 - Japan

Post by Kevin Messenger » July 15th, 2013, 10:31 am

A link to the previous post, Wuyishan in June part 2: http://www.fieldherpforum.com/forum/vie ... =2&t=18040

Japan is a new country for me. I was quite excited not only to visit it, but I was very excited for the 6th Snake Ecology Group conference. Back in 2004, Adrian Yirka, Stephen Goodyear, and I attended the 4th SEG conference during a road trip/ herp trip out to Kansas. I was upset to have missed the 5th SEG conference. This one was the first SEG conference to be held internationally. One of the best parts about this conference was its location, and the potential for some awesome herp finds. Dr. Akira Mori was in charge of hosting the program and he made sure we would get a chance to get some quality herping in.

The reason for the trip:
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20 June 2013
Arrive in Shanghai around 8am. Took the subway to the airport and waited for my flight to Okinawa, Japan. Massive delays at the airport (congestion). Got bumped up to business class again.
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(bacon wrapped chicken, mashed potatoes, salad, sushi, and some other desserts I didn’t recognize)

The international airport in Okinawa is pretty small actually. I grabbed a cab to the Naha Beachside Hotel, about 5-minutes away. One of the most striking differences between my time in China, compared to Japan, I noticed almost immediately: a 5-minute taxi ride in Japan ended up costing me $10 USD. A ride of equal duration and distance in China costs about $0.25 USD!!

Anyway, the hotel was very nice ($45 USD/night).
View from my floor, facing the ocean:
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View from my room:
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The bathtub was one of those super deep Japanese soaking tubs (maybe 4 feet deep).

But as when it came to the toilet, I made a mistake:
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When I looked over and saw the control panel and saw “shower” I was like “oh cool, you can operate the shower from the toilet” – I pressed the button and had a very shocking surprise.


21 June 2013
Program coordinators for the Snake Ecology Group (SEG) conference picked me up at my hotel around 9am. The bus was loaded with a few familiar faces, but definitely familiar names, that I simply hadn’t met yet. Through the course of the morning, I finally got to meet Al Savitzky (and his wife), Thomas Madsen, Bjorn Laurdner, Chris Jenkins, and then I got to re-meet Paul Andreadis, whom I met at the 4th SEG conference back in May 2004 in Illinois. Paul and I clicked immediately back then due to our interest in lunar rhythms in snakes. He’s one of the few other guys out there that “gets it.”

Once the bus was finally loaded with about 20 people or so, we made our way to the conference location in northern Okinawa where more conference attendees were already waiting.

Random city shots:
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First herp in Japan:
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(a species which I think probably has the widest global distributions, thanks to people)

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The bus ride was about 3-4 hours, including an hour stop for lunch at a fantastic beach:
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Spider lilies:
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Butterfly:
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The coffee cans are pretty cool:
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Cool little beach shack:
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Some flowers:
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After lunch, we hit the road again, stopping at a grocery store to pick up any snacks we might need during the conference. Some of the coordinators warned us that once we got out to the conference center we wouldn’t have access to any sort of groceries and so if there was anything we might need, we should get it then. Several of us Anglo-Saxons were worried there wasn’t going to be enough alcohol at the conference, so when we entered the grocery store, most of us headed straight to the beer section. I’ve always said this about most herpetologists (and I think it’s awesome), but generally speaking, we all seem to love beer. It’s awesome how universal it seems to be. I only limited myself to a couple of 6-packs; I bought a comparatively small amount.

While buying beer, Noriko, one of the coordinators assured us there would be plenty of beer, but we were all still skeptical.

From here we headed on to the conference.
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(random street sign/ construction sign)

One of the great things about these conferences is that they make all attempts to be as remote as possible, such that when the lectures are over, we can all just walk a few feet and be “in the woods.”

View of the conference center:
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Paul, Bjorn, Chris, and I shared a room. I couldn’t ask for a better combo.

Rick, Tom, and Bjorn:
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We had a very nice opening presentation by the host of the conference, Akira Mori, followed by a few intro talks.
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One of my favorite slides: Ovophis okinavensis, 4 of them around a pond. We got an awesome talk about these guys – in Japan they seem to fill the niche of cottonmouths. This species was my #1 target while in Japan.
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After a short couple of talks, it was time for the dinner and a social, which was supreme! I walked out of the lecture hall to see some guys grilling some big chunks of meat out on the patio (a rare sight in Asia – for me at least). One of the highlights for me was the guy outside grilling big chunks of meat. In China, steaks are a rare thing. For a couple of reasons. 1) the utensils. The Chinese use chopsticks, and as a result, you can only grab small pieces of food, not big slabs of meat. 2) hygiene. Back in the day the risk of eating improperly cooked meat was fairly high, and one would suffer as a consequence. The result is that when the Chinese cook, on top of cutting tiny strips of beef from the slab, the strips are usually cooked well done. For food safety and also just because of the fact that they are so tiny and thin. It’s hard to cook a pencil thin strip of steak medium, or rare. So, it’s a consequence I’ve gotten used to. While in China, I can say goodbye to steaks, or to beef cooked medium rare. It just isn’t going to happen. So, when I saw the guy cooking these slabs of meat, and then slicing them paper thin (afterward!), I was quite happy. The meat was on the rare side of medium-rare, and it was excellent!!

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Man how I wish I could re-live this night (incredible steak):
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Akira's opening toast:


Now for shots of the food!!
Some awesome pork (or maybe chicken):
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Some slices of medium-rare beef (sooo damn good, especially for me, being in China for over a month with no access to non-well done meat):
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Crazy weird/ unique salad:
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(made up of pumpkin, okra, citrus, bi-valves, shrimp, tomato, calamari, baby corn)

My second favorite dish (next to the beef slices): raw salmon (I guess it’s salmon). This is another strange situation with me. For the most part I’m not a fan of fish, unless it’s either sushi or very fresh sea food (as in the ocean). Pretty sure I have yet to meet a freshwater fish I am happy with.:
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(toward the end of the night, my plate was mostly stacked with raw fish and medium-rare beef)

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Another shot of the crowd of attendees
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They didn’t disappoint with the beer. They had several kegs available!
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(Japanese beer is not as bland as Chinese beer either)

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(“For your Happy Time” – Orion Beer/ plus some incredible meats)

Avocado is apparently pretty popular in Japan. Cups of avocado and shrimp:
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All in all, the banquet was exquisite, and between the rare beef, raw salmon, and the beer, I was enjoying one of the best meals I’ve had in Asia for the year.

While we were all socializing, someone walks into the room holding a newt – Cynops ensicauda popei – first herp of the trip (wild and native herp that is)!

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It was just getting dark. The find made me want to stop enjoying my meal and beer and start looking for herps (wish the whole ordeal could have started earlier). Standing outside, enjoying the onset of night, we could hear some frogs calling nearby:



I walked down to a nearby culvert and found a bunch of small frogs (Buergeria japonica):
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Local spider:
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I found a compromise to my beer dilemma – I would fill up my cup with beer, go walk around, when it ran empty, go back to the party and refill, then go out again. Tom, Bjorn and I hit the road (on foot of course). Within a few minutes I spotted the first snake – a Dinodon semicarinatus, moving behind some reeds. “Dinodon” I yelled, followed by a grab, followed by bleeding.
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We brought him out into the open, showed some other herpers walking the road as well, posed him for some quick pics, and then let him on his way.

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Next was a Gekko sp. That Bjorn found. This species is actually a cryptic species that is confused with Gekko hokouensis, and has yet to be described. Hemidactylus frenatus is also found on the island, but otherwise that’s it for geckos.
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Another cool spider:
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I eventually turned around. I wanted to check out one of the other roads. Tom and Bjorn continued on.

I went down another road very close to the conference center (after refueling of course). There was only one other herper on this road, a grad student from Taiwan that is doing radio telemetry on the Burmese pythons on Kiamen island.

I found a ton of calling Buergia japonica:
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According to Dr. Ota, these will most likely be reclassified (the Taiwanese animals, as they are quite different from the Japanese ones, but for the time being they are the same species).

Here are shots of a Taiwanese Buergia japonica from last year:
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Next was another Dinodon crossing the road, another gravid female:
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Bambina holsti
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The road I was on just kept going down and down, so I decided to turn around, lest I get too far down and then have to walk uphill for hours. On the way back up was a sub-adult Amphiesma pryeri

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Buergia japonica:
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And then a freshly hit DOR Protobothrops flavoviridis (habu) – the second most desired snake I wanted to see. Japanese name for this species is “habu” and it greatly feared in Japan (responsible for a lot of bites). Though this species was my #2 target (behind Ovophis), this specimen I was looking at was so damn pretty, it would be a close call. In retrospect, I think I would have made P. flavoviridis my most desired target.

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It was still squirming when touched…. Pretty disappointing

Well that was about it for the night. 3 species of snakes, a newt, a couple of species of frogs (Bambina, Buergia, and Microhyla – calls only). I made it back in time for some more beer. Tom had his fun with others at the conference, saying he got bit by a habu, then showing his Dinodon bite with plenty of blood – making all of the Japanese guys freak out, telling him he needs to go to the hospital, and he just waves them off “nah, it was only a meter long, I’ll be fine” – so I had my fun with Tom; Protobothrops was his #1 goal – I showed him the pic of the flavoviridis, which when viewed from the LCD on the back of the camera still looks quite alive.

A Gekko hokouensis on the ceiling:
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Now that herping was out of the way, I needed to work on my presentation that I was giving tomorrow morning at 9am. I parked myself close to the keg and worked on my presentation for a couple hours, finally going to bed around 1am or so. Awesome first “real day” in Japan!


22 June 2013
Big day of talks. Loads of them. Almost all were excellent and very intriguing.

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It was cool having both Akira and Al at the same spot, seeing as how Rhabdophis is one of my pet projects now:
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Short little coffee break and a walk outside yielded this horribly photographed Takydromus smaragdinus:
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Back to lectures:
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Lunch:
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(some kind of fish and sea grapes)

“Okinawan vegetable medley”
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(rice, okra, bi-valves, shrimp, et al.)

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Close-up of the sea grapes

My love-hate relationship:
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Dr. Mori had arranged for some night herping that night. Some “official” trips, where we take a car to some more remote sections within the forest, and each group is headed up by one or two local experts. Two groups did a mountain trail (I was one of them), and two groups did a stream walk. Before dinner that evening, Dr. Mori warned us that there wouldn’t be any alcohol at dinner since we’d all be going herping afterward, but said that when we returned from the hikes, there would be lots of alcohol there waiting. I’ve probably mentioned this before, but much like music and math are said to be universal languages – beer seems to be a universal language among herpers. Almost every herper I meet digs beer. High quality beer, not crap beer like bud/ coors/ miller/ busch, etc. So when Dr. Mori made the first announcement of no beer at dinner, everyone booed and made a bunch of depressing sounds, but then when he said there would be a table full upon our return, there was cheering. So funny.

We all split into our respective groups. My group was headed up by Noriko, a very cool recent PhD graduate that did her work on Dinodon (that must have been fun), and Dr. Ota – a very intelligent guy. I enjoyed talking to him and listening to his explanations about the fauna in northern Okinawa. He was one of those guys that know something about everything.

Our group had a pair of guys from Vietnam, Tao – a very nice guy, and his brother. Both has excellent English. He wants me to make a trip to his neck of the woods – which I very much want to do.

On the drive to the trail head we cruised this Dinodon. Here’s Dr. Ota with it:
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The trail head:
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Once we hit the trail we found:

Ateuchosaurus pellopleurus:
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Odorrana narina:
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Japalura polygonata
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An endemic slug:
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An endemic snail:
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Rana ulma
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Another Japalura polygonata:
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Odorrana narina
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Another endemic snail:
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Then my target lizard for Japan, Goniosaurus k. kuroiwae:
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Cyclophiops semicarinatum (2 individuals, both sleeping in the vegetation)
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Goniosaurus kuroiwae
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Cynops ensicauda
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Bambina holsti
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Limnonectes namiya
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Microhyla okinavensis
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Achalinus werneri
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Tree fern:
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We also found 4 Amphiesma pryeri, but I didn’t get any good shots.

A great night hike. We were all anxious to return to the conference center and indulge in the last night of festivities (alcohol). Now that the talks were mostly over (a few in the morning), everyone made new friends. So when we got back to the center, I asked the other group what all they found. One of the groups said they saw a hemihabu (“small habu”) – Ovophis okinavensis, the species I wanted to find the most. In Japan, these guys seem to take over the cottonmouth niche. They seem to act far different from their mainland cousins, Ovophis monticola – and as it so happens, Dr. Ota thinks the Japanese species will be placed in a different genus. Anyway, one of the groups that had just arrived saw an Ovophis, just a 5-min drive down the road from the conference center at a pond in the middle of a playground. I asked if someone could drive me down to the area so I could take a look. The driver was more than happy. We got out. The habitat was staggeringly weird. Nothing what I would expect. Basically there’s a bunch of swing sets and picnic benches, a sand pit, climbing equipment for kids, all of this set in the middle of a well-trimmed grass field. In the middle of all of these structures is a pond (looks man-made), surrounded with granite boulders. I approached the pond and started circling it. It didn’t take long to find the snake hanging out on the shore with his head propped up on a rock, just waiting for a frog to jump in front of him.

Ovophis okinavensis:
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(a side note on Latin pronunciation – when I saw this name for the first time, “okinavensis” – I wondered about the reasoning. It didn’t take long to realize it. In spoken Latin, the “V” is pronounced as “W.” So for example, “hello” in Latin is “salve” and is pronounced “sal-way.” But, as most people know, Latin is rarely spoken these days and many names are not meant to be strictly pronounced in the ancient ways, the genus “Vipera” for example would be a rather funny one to pronounce as “Wipera.” Chances are the species was named a very long time ago, when a classical education in Latin was more mainstream and the person knew that “okinavensis” should be pronounced as “okinawensis.”)

Anyway, sorry for the tangent, more pics:
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We were told that these guys never move unless you touch them. And based on all the pictures I took and getting all up in his personal bubble, I believe it. I was super happy to have “found” my hemihabu. However, after seeing it in action (inaction), in retrospect, I think had that juvenile P. flavoviridis been alive, it would have made for a much cooler (and beautiful) photo subject. Oh well.

We drove back to the party and drank beers and conversed with all of our newly formed friendships. I met several cool herpetologists from Taiwan, Tao from Vietnam, Tom from Sweden, Chris Jenkins, whom I’d never met before, just knew the name. Got to talk to Rick Shine again (we share a common advisor – Dr. Heatwole). Actually, after my moon talk, he said that now he was going to have to go back through all his old data and re-examine things. We all stayed up pretty late into the morning.
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The conference was too short. Tomorrow we would have a few more talks, then everyone would pack up and head back to Naha City. The day after was going to be the optional trip to the Habu Institute.

23 June 2013
A couple more talks in the morning: snakes of Oz, venomous snakes of Vietnam, snakes of Taiwan, and closing remarks from Dr. Mori. We had 50-something attendees. Countries included: Japan, Taiwan, Australia, New Caledonia, USA, Sweden, and Vietnam. I was disappointed (but not surprised) that there weren’t any herpetologists from China. Though I was disappointed AND surprised that there weren’t any representatives from Hong Kong.


Tao from Vietnam:
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Dr. Ota:
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Neil Ford, one of the founders of SEG:
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We loaded up the bus again and started heading back south.

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Owl fly:
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More tree ferns:
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Japanese Mtn Dew!!
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We all got dropped off at our respective hotels. Some people would be leaving tomorrow, others would be hanging around for the optional trip to the Habu Institute.

Looks like a cool pub:
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An import store:
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That night me, Bjorn, Paul, and Chris went out to a local steakhouse for dinner. Chris and Bjorn would be leaving the next morning. Paul was going to stay in Japan until the 30th.

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Cheese filled lobster, medium steak, fish, fries, veggies

Bjorn, myself, and Paul – the “luna(r)tics”
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Using the sx50 at 24mm
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And then at 1200mm:
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24 June 2013
Noriko came to the hotel in the morning to pick up the few of us that were visiting the Habu Institute (2 groups, I was the early morning group). The habu institute is a facility that takes in nuisance habus, conducts behavioral studies on them, and milks them for antivenom production. Habus in Japan (at least Okinawa) are quite common and account for about 100 bites per year. They live well in urban settings.

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The record sized habu, found in 2011:
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2.4 m

The institute had a cool way of preserving snakes. Rather than bottles with liquid, the animals were in tubes, stretched out:
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This habu was found with 5 kittens in it:
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Habu bite:
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The institute has various snake traps out throughout all of the small village. The traps use a live mouse, which can survive for about a month on the food and water they provide for it.

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When a new habu comes in, data is taken on the animal, then it’s added to the facility, milked, and that’s about it. They receive about 400 nuisance habus a year.

One of the flavoviridis:
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A mass of animals
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A little juvie:
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They also keep some of the other species of habus at the facility. Okinawa is now home to two invasive species of habu – the Taiwanese habu (Protobothrops mucrosquamata), which was released from their outdoor enclosures during the most recent tsunami, and the “Elegant” habu (I don’t know the English name, Protobothrops elegans) – which is native is the southern Ryukyu archipelago. Both P. elegans and P. mucrosquamata were brought to Okinawa to be used in snake wine.

Invasive P. elegans
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Al photographing the elegans
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An invasive P. mucrosquamata:
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The P. elegans animals escaped on their own (not storm assisted). Both species have created F1 hybrids with the local P. flavoviridis. The institute had a P. elegans x flavoviridis.

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Elegans is mostly isolated in the south, whereas mucrosquamata has been found in the south and central portions of Okinawa.

Another invasive species is the Taiwan beauty snake (Elaphe taeniura). The central Ryukyus archipelago does not have an arboreal diurnal predatory snake.
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Closest competition would be the Japanese subspecies of Elaphe carinata:
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In addition to these guys the institute also had some hemihabus, including an amelanistic individual. We asked about their bites. The guy said that their venom is extremely weak and that most people bitten don’t even go to the hospital. It just causes some swelling. That coupled with the fact that they barely bite, means that this species isn’t brought in a pest species very often.

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The highlight for me was one of the endemics known to a small cluster of islands north of Okinawa (but still in the central Ryukyus archipelago) – P. tonkarensis, a very beautiful animal. After that he brought out a melanistic individual. About 20% of the island is melanistic.

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They took us outside to their outdoor facility where they run experiments and study the animals in a number of ways.

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Random flower:
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Then took us to the clean room where they do the venom extracting (we could only look inside). They showed us some work where they are using transgenic mice with human immune systems to produce antivenom.

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After the show, we got in our van and headed back to the hotels. I spent the rest of the day walking around in the immediate area.

Random pics:
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Interesting coffee:
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Japanese Dr. Pepper!!
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25 June 2013
My plan doesn’t leave until 4:30pm, so I decided to stop by a Subway and see how they do things different in Japan. The sub that caught my eye was the prosciutto and marscapone sub with avocado. I’m used to prosciutto being slightly cured – this was not. It was straight up raw. It was an awesome sub.

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Made it to the airport, just to find out my plane was delayed by two hours. Which means my arrival into Shanghai will make me too late to buy a train ticket to head to Nanjing. Which means I’ll have to get a hotel. The two hour delay ended up costing me a 180Y taxi ride and a 300Y hotel. The taxi ride was more expensive that the bullet train from Shanghai to Nanjing! Oh well. Thankfully NFU is covering all of my expenses.

So that’s the end of the Japan trip.

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26 June 20132 July 2013
Hanging around Nanjing. As part of becoming a student at NFU I have to get a physical. It’s probably been about 11 or 12 yrs since I’ve had a physical. The last one I can remember was 2001 when I had to get one before doing Philmont in AZ. So I wasn’t quite sure what to expect. I figured it would be very similar to the physicals in the US. Some questions, some coughing, and for the most part that’s about it.

It’s way more intense. First, you start off with a blood draw (green and purple top).

Then you go to x-ray and have an entire upper body x-ray (head, thorax). After this I walked over to the “general” doctor and he takes your weight, height, blood pressure, and then taps and palpates your abdomen. After this you go to the Eye Nose and Throat doctor. They check your vision, check for color blindness, and throat. From here you go and get an ECG. Once you’re done with that, you go over to ultra-sound and they check out your liver, kidneys, and spleen.
Then you’re done. All of this happened in maybe 15 to 20 mins. You come back in 3 days to get your results. Cost = $70 USD.

A link to the next post, #58, herping China with Noel - mostly in Shennongjia: http://www.fieldherpforum.com/forum/vie ... 96#p209496

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TravisK
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Re: China post #56 - Japan

Post by TravisK » July 15th, 2013, 11:32 am

Great thread...

I learned a lot more about Japan than I was expecting to. I love this stuff.

VICtort
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Re: China post #56 - Japan

Post by VICtort » July 15th, 2013, 2:49 pm

Fun thread. Kevin, you are not only a zoologist but have a knack for anthropology too... The heavy bodied and aptly Hemihabu is an impressive beast.

I am learning a lot about Asia thanks to you.

Vic

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Rich in Reptiles
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Re: China post #56 - Japan

Post by Rich in Reptiles » July 15th, 2013, 7:47 pm

I've been looking foward to your next post!! This was incredible, i love how you also include the culture out there as well as the herps. It was cool seeing Dr. Chris Jenkins, i admire his work with the Orianne Society. Thanks for sharing your fun experiences with us, i really enjoyed meeting you in April!

-Bethany

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Re: China post #56 - Japan

Post by Shane_TX » July 15th, 2013, 8:43 pm

When I first read the title I was thinking the main islands: handful of hynobiids and a giant sally and all of the snakes, etc. But nope, Okinawa, and the north end to boot. Good showing on the herps! One never had to worry about beer.......guess they tightened up on the 100 yen vending machine deal for rural areas?

Anyone in the group come across Cuora?

Edit:
So when we got back to the center, I asked the other group what all they found. One of the groups said they saw a hemihabu (“small habu”) – Ovophis okinavensis,
Hime Habu = Princess Habu, literally. Pronounced He-may, the princess aspect supposedly relates to small size and perhaps potency. Not Hemi! Although taken in the context of a powerful dodge engine I would also agree, because those that I encountered on a road were quite pugnacious and stout enough to slide themselves forward on a smooth surface.

Shane

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Kevin Messenger
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Re: China post #56 - Japan

Post by Kevin Messenger » July 15th, 2013, 9:27 pm

Thanks for all the comments everyone.
Shane_TX wrote:When I first read the title I was thinking the main islands: handful of hynobiids and a giant sally and all of the snakes, etc. But nope, Okinawa, and the north end to boot. Good showing on the herps! One never had to worry about beer.......guess they tightened up on the 100 yen vending machine deal for rural areas?

Anyone in the group come across Cuora?

Edit:
So when we got back to the center, I asked the other group what all they found. One of the groups said they saw a hemihabu (“small habu”) – Ovophis okinavensis,
Hime Habu = Princess Habu, literally. Pronounced He-may, the princess aspect supposedly relates to small size and perhaps potency. Not Hemi! Although taken in the context of a powerful dodge engine I would also agree, because those that I encountered on a road were quite pugnacious and stout enough to slide themselves forward on a smooth surface.

Shane
Shane, when I was in town, I was astonished at how many vending machines there were!! Walking a single city block, one would pass like 10 vending machines on the street. And at every street intersection, you could see 4-5 vending machines, at least one at every corner. But out at the conference center, there was only a single vending machine - only soda, no beer. But between our fear of a lack of beer, and their preparedness, we all had PLENTY. So it was all good.

I did mean to comment on how everyone else did. We had a lot of herpers out walking that first night, and if you combine everyone's efforts, we found the 3 species of snakes (Dinodon, Amphiesma, and Protobothrops [DOR]), 2 caudates (Cynops and Echinotriton andersonii), 1 turtle (Geoemyda japonica), and 3 geckos (2 Gekko, 1 Hemidactylus). I was quite jealous of the turtle find! and of the crocodile newt...

As for the himehabu, they seem quite different from mainland Asian Ovophis. From some of the slides we saw, they seem more like Agkistrodon than that of a rarely seen, semi-fossorial, montane viper (like they are in Taiwan and mainland China).

In my very small time I spent in Japan, I really loved it. And I would love to spend more time there.

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SoutheastColorado
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Re: China post #56 - Japan

Post by SoutheastColorado » July 16th, 2013, 3:20 pm

Awesome post!

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Re: China post #56 - Japan

Post by Hans Breuer (twoton) » July 17th, 2013, 3:44 am

Awesome post. But I bet you knew that already :-)

I'm surprised they didn't serve you guys fried habu at the meeting. When I visited Okinawa in the early 80s, I had some cheap rice/veggie/fried meat dish at a greasy spoon, and upon asking what the meat was (I didn't read Japanese and ordered by price), I was told "habu". That was my first encounter with an Asian snake ever. Much like chicken, but very oily. They sold habu meat every where, the snakes apparently being so common that there were signs in the big park on the main island (next to the US Army base) telling you never to walk the park at night without banging the ground with a stick as you walked.

Never heard of the hime habu...what a fantastic creature!!

Thanks for sharing!!

PS: That Bjorn fellow...is that Bjorn Lardner?

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Re: China post #56 - Japan

Post by Kevin Messenger » July 17th, 2013, 4:01 am

interesting. well i'd hope a bunch of snake lovers wouldn't serve snake at a snake ecology conference!!

as far as in the town though - that doesn't surprise me. The snakes do seem to be extremely common, and as you can tell, they can get very large (2.4 m). Dr. Mori did tell me that throughout all of Japan, venomous snakes can not be awarded any sort of legal protection - because it's a species of animal that can harm people is the reason...

They brought in mongooses awhile back to try and control the habu population. Only problem is that the mongoose is a diurnal predator, and the snakes they were meant to hunt are nocturnal.

Yeah, that's Bjorn Lardner

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Re: China post #56 - Japan

Post by Hans Breuer (twoton) » July 17th, 2013, 5:14 am

Thanks, Kevin! Mongooses...<epic fail>. I remember seeing a staged mongoose/habu fight at the snake center back then. I guess they don't have those anymore.....

The habus grow up to eight foot in length?? Are you sure?

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Re: China post #56 - Japan

Post by Kevin Messenger » July 17th, 2013, 5:18 am

242 cm is the record size. they had it mounted at the habu institute. caught in 2011

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Re: China post #56 - Japan

Post by Hans Breuer (twoton) » July 17th, 2013, 5:31 am

Cripes!

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Re: China post #56 - Japan

Post by garry » July 17th, 2013, 8:43 am

Very nice post! Food, beer and snakes. What more could a guy want?, well there is one thing but 3 out of 4 ain't bad. :lol:

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Re: China post #56 - Japan

Post by Martti Niskanen » July 17th, 2013, 9:22 am

Wonderful post again, Kevin. Thank you for this.

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Re: China post #56 - Japan

Post by RenoBart » July 17th, 2013, 2:59 pm

Awesome post. Japan is a fantastic country, been there twice in fact, but never down south. I need to get down there next time. I did go to the Salamander Center while I was in Osaka last fall. Awesome herp spot as well.

And I see you were just as thrilled with Japanese food and drink as I was, here is me with my Mtn Dew tallboy.

Image

Good times over there.

Bart

PS - Those little 4x4s your posted pics of are Suzuki Jimnys. Awesome little rigs too, I wish we had them here, alas we are stuck with cookie cutter Jeeps.

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Re: China post #56 - Japan

Post by Kevin Messenger » July 17th, 2013, 10:31 pm

RenoBart wrote: And I see you were just as thrilled with Japanese food and drink as I was, here is me with my Mtn Dew tallboy.

PS - Those little 4x4s your posted pics of are Suzuki Jimnys. Awesome little rigs too, I wish we had them here, alas we are stuck with cookie cutter Jeeps.
Yes, I was quite happy with the food. Especially the rare to raw meat.

We do have Suzuki Jimmys in the states. I've seen some. Unless I'm thinking of a Suzuki Samari?? Now I'm not sure. Nowadays we are stuck with cookie cutter jeeps, but prior to jeep selling out (2007), it was rare to find any two jeeps that looked the same. One of the reasons I was drawn to jeeps, because of how customizable you can make them. They are almost as unique as the person that drives them. I know I've never seen another Hunter Green YJ out there with all of my modifications on it:
Image

Herping friends jeeps (including mine in the bottom right) - only one is not modified:
Image

but I digress (easy to do when jeeps come up) - yes, Japan was very awesome, and I enjoyed it immensely, especially for such a short time. I really wish I could have had more time there. The one downside if the fact that it's not near as cheap as the other Asian countries. Expenses were basically on par with the US.

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Re: China post #56 - Japan

Post by [email protected] » July 17th, 2013, 11:43 pm

This thread is unbelievable. I like the food pics (sea grapes!) as much as the animals, and scenery.

You're a lucky guy Kevin!

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Re: China post #56 - Japan

Post by Hans Breuer (twoton) » July 18th, 2013, 12:40 am

Kevin Messenger wrote:
RenoBart wrote:The one downside if the fact that it's not near as cheap as the other Asian countries. Expenses were basically on par with the US.
On the upside, they have vending machines for kegged beer, whisky, hot instant noodles, and used panties.

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Re: China post #56 - Japan

Post by Kevin Messenger » July 18th, 2013, 12:45 am

lol. yes. Someone told me one of the nicknames for Japan is "the land of vending machines." I didn't see any exotic vending machines, otherwise you can surely bet I would have photographed them!

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Re: China post #56 - Japan

Post by RenoBart » July 18th, 2013, 7:47 am

Yes, we had the Suzuki Samurai, and the Jimny is basically a "new" Samurai. I have never seen a domestic Jimny on the streets of the USA ever. I rented one down in Costa Rica though, it was a nice little cheap 4x4.

I have no real problem with Jeeps, I just prefer other things. The one thing about Jeeps that is nice, is the massive amount of aftermarket support. I'm an Isuzu Trooper guy and it is a dying market.

Anyway yeah, Japan is awesome. I'll be going back at some point.

Bart

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Re: China post #56 - Japan

Post by -EJ » July 18th, 2013, 8:05 am

Tell me you don't lead a charmed life. I susupect you believe you do.

The toilet... been there... didn't do that.

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Re: China post #56 - Japan

Post by Kevin Messenger » July 18th, 2013, 8:12 am

-EJ wrote:Tell me you don't lead a charmed life. I susupect you believe you do.

The toilet... been there... didn't do that.

No... far from it. I lead a poor life.... yeah, maybe had I looked at the toilet a little bit longer I would have thought better. but since the one button said "bidet" - I figured "shower" definitely had to mean "shower"

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Re: China post #56 - Japan

Post by RenoBart » July 18th, 2013, 8:28 am

I actually like the Toto toilet seats. Clean off the cornhole with water, less TP needed. Get a little splash of #1 or #2 on your taint, use the shower, all better. :)

Bart

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Re: China post #56 - Japan

Post by -EJ » July 18th, 2013, 8:37 am

I wish I had your poor life.


Kevin Messenger wrote:
-EJ wrote:Tell me you don't lead a charmed life. I susupect you believe you do.

The toilet... been there... didn't do that.

No... far from it. I lead a poor life.... yeah, maybe had I looked at the toilet a little bit longer I would have thought better. but since the one button said "bidet" - I figured "shower" definitely had to mean "shower"

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Re: China post #56 - Japan

Post by Kevin Messenger » July 18th, 2013, 8:45 am

RenoBart wrote:I actually like the Toto toilet seats. Clean off the cornhole with water, less TP needed. Get a little splash of #1 or #2 on your taint, use the shower, all better. :)

Bart
yeah, once I got past the shock of it, I really loved it too. And yeah, as you say, much less TP. It was just that first initial "whoa, wtf" - especially since I pushed the button expecting the shower to turn on

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Re: China post #56 - Japan

Post by RenoBart » July 18th, 2013, 8:51 am

Kevin Messenger wrote:
RenoBart wrote:I actually like the Toto toilet seats. Clean off the cornhole with water, less TP needed. Get a little splash of #1 or #2 on your taint, use the shower, all better. :)

Bart
yeah, once I got past the shock of it, I really loved it too. And yeah, as you say, much less TP. It was just that first initial "whoa, wtf" - especially since I pushed the button expecting the shower to turn on
LOL, yeah, and the seat wamers? I could "rest" in the "room" for hours. :) Clever those Japanese. I did a whole post on my blog about all the little neat things they do over there that we don't.

Bart

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Re: China post #56 - Japan

Post by Shane_TX » July 19th, 2013, 8:53 pm

Much like chicken, but very oily. They sold habu meat every where,
Are you sure about that?
I did mean to comment on how everyone else did. We had a lot of herpers out walking that first night, and if you combine everyone's efforts, we found the 3 species of snakes (Dinodon, Amphiesma, and Protobothrops [DOR]), 2 caudates (Cynops and Echinotriton andersonii), 1 turtle (Geoemyda japonica), and 3 geckos (2 Gekko, 1 Hemidactylus). I was quite jealous of the turtle find! and of the crocodile newt...
I'm jealous of the namiyei! But, on the snake end, a 7' akamata will never leave my memory...mix of Boiga and Lampropeltis to me.

Shane

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Re: China post #56 - Japan

Post by Kevin Messenger » July 19th, 2013, 11:36 pm

Shane_TX wrote:
Much like chicken, but very oily. They sold habu meat every where,
Are you sure about that?
I did mean to comment on how everyone else did. We had a lot of herpers out walking that first night, and if you combine everyone's efforts, we found the 3 species of snakes (Dinodon, Amphiesma, and Protobothrops [DOR]), 2 caudates (Cynops and Echinotriton andersonii), 1 turtle (Geoemyda japonica), and 3 geckos (2 Gekko, 1 Hemidactylus). I was quite jealous of the turtle find! and of the crocodile newt...
I'm jealous of the namiyei! But, on the snake end, a 7' akamata will never leave my memory...mix of Boiga and Lampropeltis to me.

Shane
wait wait wait, a 7' akamata. google translates "akamata snake" as Dinodon semicarinatus. Are you telling me you found a 7' Dinodon?!?!?

A) amazing B) unbelievable and C) I cannot imagine a bite - knowing how bad a 3'er can be

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Re: China post #56 - Japan

Post by Hans Breuer (twoton) » July 20th, 2013, 9:15 pm

Shane_TX wrote:
Much like chicken, but very oily. They sold habu meat every where,
Are you sure about that?
Yes. I stayed on Okinawa for a week, and you could get the stuff in almost every small eatery.

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Re: China post #56 - Japan

Post by Shane_TX » July 20th, 2013, 9:19 pm

Kevin Messenger wrote:
Shane_TX wrote:
Much like chicken, but very oily. They sold habu meat every where,
Are you sure about that?
I did mean to comment on how everyone else did. We had a lot of herpers out walking that first night, and if you combine everyone's efforts, we found the 3 species of snakes (Dinodon, Amphiesma, and Protobothrops [DOR]), 2 caudates (Cynops and Echinotriton andersonii), 1 turtle (Geoemyda japonica), and 3 geckos (2 Gekko, 1 Hemidactylus). I was quite jealous of the turtle find! and of the crocodile newt...
I'm jealous of the namiyei! But, on the snake end, a 7' akamata will never leave my memory...mix of Boiga and Lampropeltis to me.

Shane
wait wait wait, a 7' akamata. google translates "akamata snake" as Dinodon semicarinatus. Are you telling me you found a 7' Dinodon?!?!?

A) amazing B) unbelievable and C) I cannot imagine a bite - knowing how bad a 3'er can be
Yep, impressive snake for sure and the guesstimate is on the conservative side. I'm 6'+ all day long, without shoes, and I had to extend my arm fully while tailing the bugger just to get it off of the ground; didn't grab at the tip of the tail and it wasn't exactly a straight snake. At the time I was familiar with akamata in the 3' range and knew better than to let them get a piece of skin.

It was a quick encounter: main road (desolate and mountainous and unsafe, especially with me toying with a snake), screaming girlfriend, and me not expecting a 7' akamata! Nothing to do but let it slip into the forest and the memory. 2m plus akamata are not especially rare but it does piss off the habu hunters when they find the big ones (even akamata) in a DOR condition! Also pisses them off when you cruise their territory.

Shane

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