A Dream Come True in Borneo!

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Antonsrkn
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A Dream Come True in Borneo!

Post by Antonsrkn » November 6th, 2014, 4:04 pm

Hey guys and gals, its been a while since I posted anything. I spent the past 6 months or so in Asia mostly doing fieldwork in Borneo but with some memorable side trips as well. I was hoping to do a post but I'm leaving to go to Ecuador for another 6 months in about a week, with 1000s of photos to go through from Borneo and plenty of other more pressing matters at hand, I don't think I'll have time for a full post. But I still wanted to share this, one of (or the) coolest finds I have ever had! A Dragonsnake (Xenodermus javanicus), one of those snakes I always wanted to find but never thought I would!

Dragonsnake (Xenodermus javanicus)
ImageDragonsnake by antonsrkn, on Flickr

This one was found one night as I waded thigh deep through a swiftly flowing stream in the Bornean Jungle. It had been a great night with hordes of frogs, mostly rockskippers (Staurois latopalmatus) and some Meristogenys sp. However, I was hoping for more, specifically snakes. In the distance I had spotted several frog shapes clinging to an almost vertical boulder right above a series of rapids, thinking that it would make for a cool photo I clambered through the river towards them taking care about my footing on the submerged rocks and wary of the current that was pushing me around. It was slow progress as I was very aware of the possibility of dunking myself and my camera into the stream but eventually I made it over to the two rockskipper frogs who were still hanging onto the slippery rock. I took another look at the frogs and forgot about them instantly, just a hands width away from one of the frogs this snake was moving across the nearly vertical rock, i knew right away what it was! I had been hoping to see one but realized the chances were exceedingly slim, needless to say i was ridiculously excited. I thought about trying to get some in-situ shots but I was standing in an area where I was not sure how long I could remain without slipping from the current pushing at my legs and the frogs near the snake were much too big for it to consume (I would have risked staying to document that) so I moved myself and the snake several meters over to a safer location. Interestingly, after I released the xenodermus back where i found it I realized I was standing about 10 m from the spot where I had an exciting encounter with a King Cobra the previous year, when I was crossing that same stream for work.

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JAMAUGHN
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Re: A Dream Come True in Borneo!

Post by JAMAUGHN » November 6th, 2014, 4:10 pm

That is a ridiculously cool snake., and a stellar photo. Congratulations!

JimM

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Bryan Hamilton
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Re: A Dream Come True in Borneo!

Post by Bryan Hamilton » November 6th, 2014, 4:20 pm

Wow! Incredible find.

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The Real Snake Man
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Re: A Dream Come True in Borneo!

Post by The Real Snake Man » November 6th, 2014, 4:42 pm

Because eloquence escapes me: WOW. WOW. WOW. :thumb: :thumb: :thumb: :beer: :beer: :thumb: :thumb: :thumb: WOW. WOW. WOW.

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Re: A Dream Come True in Borneo!

Post by Chaitanya » November 6th, 2014, 5:06 pm

awesome find.

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Re: A Dream Come True in Borneo!

Post by daniel » November 6th, 2014, 5:07 pm

that might be the coolest snake I have ever seen. congratulations!

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Re: A Dream Come True in Borneo!

Post by justinm » November 7th, 2014, 5:45 am

Anton,

This is in my top 5 to photograph. I can only imagine the excitement. Do you have loads of pictures to share? I would love to see them. Great stuff, thanks for sharing.

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Kelly Mc
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Re: A Dream Come True in Borneo!

Post by Kelly Mc » November 7th, 2014, 6:49 am

Its difficult to pull my eyes away. Even the odd uniformity of color, like the primordial muck, let alone the scales and like, Everything About It.

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Re: A Dream Come True in Borneo!

Post by klawnskale » November 7th, 2014, 11:05 am

I find the head structure of this snake interesting. Is it a burrower? It appears to have some modifications to its rostral area plus the underslung jawline that would suggest this. Do you have any close ups of the head? Oh Ok; I looked up some info on this. The nares are placed and modified in such a way to allow breathing air at the water surface while swimming and hunting for frogs.

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Re: A Dream Come True in Borneo!

Post by yuesam » November 7th, 2014, 12:55 pm

Very nice!

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Jeff
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Re: A Dream Come True in Borneo!

Post by Jeff » November 7th, 2014, 5:29 pm

Ditto on the Wows! Your photo says much more about the species than published photos of dead or limply dying specimens. For example, at the midbody it is evident that the snake is extending its ribs outward, evidently to grip the rock. And if that is its typical habitat, the rib clutch is well suited. De Rooij's drawing from 1917 shows one in the water with its head periscoped upward.

On that roll, it should have been a casual effort to check off an earless monitor as well.

Jeff

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Kelly Mc
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Re: A Dream Come True in Borneo!

Post by Kelly Mc » November 7th, 2014, 8:20 pm

Jeff wrote:Ditto on the Wows! Your photo says much more about the species than published photos of dead or limply dying specimens. For example, at the midbody it is evident that the snake is extending its ribs outward, evidently to grip the rock. And if that is its typical habitat, the rib clutch is well suited. De Rooij's drawing from 1917 shows one in the water with its head periscoped upward.

On that roll, it should have been a casual effort to check off an earless monitor as well.

Jeff

Jeff this is great observation - the cross section of the body, the sensile, corregated edges in contact. The first time I saw a photo of one of these guys was here FHF, and my first thought was how much i would like to see video of it moving

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Re: A Dream Come True in Borneo!

Post by Antonsrkn » November 7th, 2014, 8:48 pm

Thanks everyone, glad I could share this with you all! its something I will never forget, i'm super lucky to have gotten a chance to see one and to be able to show it to people who appreciate this animal.
justinm wrote: Do you have loads of pictures to share? I would love to see them. Great stuff, thanks for sharing.
Justin,
I have 1000s and 1000s of photos from Borneo, but I haven't even seen them all yet! I foolishly brought just a tablet with me to Borneo and was unable to process or even view my photos on it while I was over there. Now i'm trying to edit through them bit by bit and find the good ones in just the two weeks I had (less now) before I go to Ecuador, but it looks like i'm going to run out of time long before finishing.
Kelly Mc wrote:Its difficult to pull my eyes away. Even the odd uniformity of color, like the primordial muck, let alone the scales and like, Everything About It.
I know what you mean, it was exceedingly difficult to walk away from it that night. I think I could have stayed with it and just watched it go about its business (or sit there motionless) all night it was just such an amazing animal.
klawnskale wrote:I find the head structure of this snake interesting. Is it a burrower? It appears to have some modifications to its rostral area plus the underslung jawline that would suggest this. Do you have any close ups of the head? Oh Ok; I looked up some info on this. The nares are placed and modified in such a way to allow breathing air at the water surface while swimming and hunting for frogs.
The head structure/scales are certainly something else, I don't have the knowledge to explain the strangeness. As you said they are associated with water, how aquatic they are I have no idea. I would have said the current was too fast for aquatic snakes there but that's just a guess. The other specimens I have heard of being found were all along streams rather than actually in them, but I don't think anyone really knows. I have some additional shots of the head I'll put up now.
Jeff wrote: at the midbody it is evident that the snake is extending its ribs outward, evidently to grip the rock. And if that is its typical habitat, the rib clutch is well suited. De Rooij's drawing from 1917 shows one in the water with its head periscoped upward.

On that roll, it should have been a casual effort to check off an earless monitor as well.
Yeah, when I first spotted this snake it was making its way upwards across a rock face that was almost vertical, not really how i imagined finding this species at all, never pictured it climbing around much but apparently its quite able.

Well I didn't find an earless monitor, but i did come across another possible rarity that night. At the time I didn't know what it was but I now think it was Corrugated watersnake (Opisthotrophis typica), I'm still not completely sure I haven't found an exact match for my photos, but considering how little information there seems to be about it, i'm thinking it was potentially a pretty good find as well.

Here's a few more shots! Hope they're to everyones' liking!
ImageDragon's Tongue by antonsrkn, on Flickr
ImageThe Dragon's Chin by antonsrkn, on Flickr

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Re: A Dream Come True in Borneo!

Post by orionmystery » November 7th, 2014, 9:50 pm

Congratulation! It's such a cool snake. I hope to find one too!

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Re: A Dream Come True in Borneo!

Post by dendrelaphis » November 9th, 2014, 6:51 am

A very enigmatic snake, wonderful find, I have never found it in Borneo and can only hope to find one in the future.

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Chris Smith
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Re: A Dream Come True in Borneo!

Post by Chris Smith » November 9th, 2014, 9:58 am

Awesome! Please report your finds to www.herpmapper.org. The project needs more participation from that part of the world.

Thanks for sharing!
Chris

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Re: A Dream Come True in Borneo!

Post by Rich in Reptiles » November 9th, 2014, 4:25 pm

The holy grail of herp finds! Congrats on finding such a rare beauty!

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Re: A Dream Come True in Borneo!

Post by Antonsrkn » November 9th, 2014, 7:03 pm

Thanks all!

Kurt, good luck, i'm looking forward to seeing your photos of it when you find it! You've certainly come across your fair share of rarities, this ones only a matter of time.

Chris, Sorry I don't think I'll get a chance to enter my records into Herpmapper. Atleast for a while, i'm only in the states for 6 more days which are going to be swamped with work. Then I'm off again and I just received word that we won't have internet at our fieldsite so its gonna have to wait atleast 6 months. I do think herpmapper is a worthwhile project and if I remember I'll try to enter my finds into there 6 months from now.

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Re: A Dream Come True in Borneo!

Post by Hans Breuer (twoton) » November 10th, 2014, 11:18 pm

Is it an ugly snake? Discuss! :)

Congratulations on your find! Whereabouts was that "Bornean jungle"?

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Re: A Dream Come True in Borneo!

Post by JakeScott » November 11th, 2014, 9:35 am

These are such awesome snakes. This is a great shot of it to boot.

Have fun in Ecuador!

-Jake

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Re: A Dream Come True in Borneo!

Post by LouB747 » November 11th, 2014, 6:39 pm

I've never heard of a Dragon Snake. Thanks for sharing. What an incredible find! Congrats.

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Re: A Dream Come True in Borneo!

Post by orionmystery » November 11th, 2014, 6:43 pm

Antonsrkn wrote:Thanks all!

Kurt, good luck, i'm looking forward to seeing your photos of it when you find it! You've certainly come across your fair share of rarities, this ones only a matter of time.
Thanks, Anton. And if you find a Royal Tree Snake (Gonyophis margaritatus) too, everyone will hate you! :D

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Re: A Dream Come True in Borneo!

Post by The Real Snake Man » November 11th, 2014, 7:40 pm

orionmystery wrote:everyone will hate you!
The dark side of Kurt :twisted:

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Re: A Dream Come True in Borneo!

Post by Hans Breuer (twoton) » November 12th, 2014, 1:28 am

The Real Snake Man wrote:
orionmystery wrote:everyone will hate you!
The dark side of Kurt :twisted:
Nah. He's right. We'll all hate him :-)

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Re: A Dream Come True in Borneo!

Post by Antonsrkn » November 12th, 2014, 9:36 am

Hans Breuer (twoton) wrote:Is it an ugly snake? Discuss! :)

Congratulations on your find! Whereabouts was that "Bornean jungle"?
Its certainly not the prettiest snake, I'd say its charm lays in how distinct and unique it is from most other snakes. This Bornean jungle was in Sabah in the general Danum Valley area.

Jake and Lou, thanks!

Kurt and Hans, haha there is little chance of that happening as I'm not in Asia anymore. Finding one of those really would have been something, sadly I didn't have enough luck but I'll be back to try again! Hopefully before too long.

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Re: A Dream Come True in Borneo!

Post by withalligators » November 17th, 2014, 10:51 am

Fantastic!

What project were you working on in Borneo?

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Re: A Dream Come True in Borneo!

Post by Antonsrkn » November 17th, 2014, 6:42 pm

I was helping on a project that dealt with camera trapping various mammals out in the jungle, specifically mammalian frugivores but we got all kinds of stuff on our cams, in addition to that we also looked at what fruits/seeds were present at what times and in what numbers and we did all this in both primary and previously logged forest. It was a great time, I'm missing it already.

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Re: A Dream Come True in Borneo!

Post by Hans Breuer (twoton) » November 17th, 2014, 9:34 pm

Antonsrkn wrote:I was helping on a project that dealt with camera trapping various mammals out in the jungle, specifically mammalian frugivores
"Mammalian frugivores", huh? Now, lissen here, boy, that's jes' a fancy name fer Diplogale hosei, if'n I'm not turbly messtaken. So you trapped with John and his HOSCAP gang? But they usually work on the Upper Baram....maybe you were with Jedediah?

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Re: A Dream Come True in Borneo!

Post by Antonsrkn » November 18th, 2014, 5:51 am

Haha, we actually never got a D. hosei on the traps, but we got just about everything else you can imagine, i'm not sure that they even occur in Danum. But you're right about who it was for, even though I've never actually met Jed, the project I was assisting on originates in his lab, its one of his students PhD projects.

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Re: A Dream Come True in Borneo!

Post by Hans Breuer (twoton) » November 19th, 2014, 7:49 pm

I knew it. It IS a small island :-) I met Jed when he gave a riveting talk at the Sarawak Biodiversity Center, about his trapping in Sabah and on the Sabah/Sarawak border. Great guy, and the way he takes his young family on his expeditions is commendable. Non sequitur: I think trapping photos should be exclusively black&white....it retains that certain Blair Witch feeling that makes trapping photos so cool.

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Re: A Dream Come True in Borneo!

Post by walk-about » December 3rd, 2014, 3:15 pm

Antonsrkn + Dragonsnake = Major Congrats! Who knew? Such an animal crawled and it has got to be one of the strangest looking snakes I have ever seen. Love the play by play of how you came across it as much as the pic. Thanks for sharing this magical jewel from Borneo with us.

Dave

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Re: A Dream Come True in Borneo!

Post by Mike Pingleton » December 10th, 2014, 12:27 pm

Totally awesome! Wow!

-Mike

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Re: A Dream Come True in Borneo!

Post by mfb » December 10th, 2014, 5:23 pm

What an amazing animal! Thanks for sharing.

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Re: A Dream Come True in Borneo!

Post by snakemastermyke » December 18th, 2014, 3:28 pm

AWESOME FIND MAN! CONGRATS!

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