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 Post subject: Borneo report Part 1
PostPosted: April 6th, 2018, 4:20 pm 

Joined: March 19th, 2013, 2:04 am
Posts: 12
Hello all,
So it has been a while since my last trip so it is about time I put up some images. Ever since learning of the “Field Studies in the Equatorial Tropics: Borneo“ course offered by my Uni, I knew it was something I had to get onto. Desperate to return to the country of bizarre and mind blowing, I knuckled down to get through to this subject, my final of my undergraduate degree.
I have an interest in the weird, wonderful and often less glorified wildlife and Malaysia sure did not disappoint. My Uni subject ran in Danum Valley for two weeks plus a week of volunteer work along the Kinabatangan river, after which I travelled Sabah and Sarawak, with a couple of nights in KL before heading home. Forewarning this post may include a few awesome non-herps. Since this is a big one I shall break it into two posts. Prelude over, lets begin, part 1.

Herping in Danum was hard. Keen to get into it I trudged around every night possible despite the rain and some pressing uni work. Crazy invertebrates were everywhere though, a few I photographed included;

Trilobite Beetle (Platerodrilus sp, funnily enough the male looks nothing alike, instead taking the form of a pretty average looking beetle)
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Giant Millipedes (Trigoniulus sp?, sadly no shots to prove its gigantic proportions)
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Vinegaroons (Thelyphonida sp, Mating behaviour?)
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And a couple of Giant Forest Scorpions (Heterometrus longimanus)
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Aside from Bornean Keeled Pit Vipers (Tropidolaemus subannulatus), which were common (one taking up residence within touching distance of the dining tables), snakes were hard to come by. Our luck finally changed one night when I found this gorgeous Blunt-headed tree snake. (which quickly became the most frequently encountered snake through our travels, yet they still amazed me at every showing).

Blunt-headed tree snake (Aplopeltura boa)
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This cool little agamid made a nice find early one night.
Ornate earless agama (Aphaniotis ornata) with its rostral appendage.
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Whilst walking back to the accommodation late one night I spotted this very cool Frilly gecko. Coming from Australia where the only Hemidactylus that we get are the invasive H.frenatus, I was unaware how cool its congeners were.
Malayan frilly gecko (Hemidactylus craspedotus)
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After some torrential rain the amphibians were out including this awesome Horned frog (once again a species that was seen in great numbers but was always difficult to not photograph every individual).
Malaysian horned frog (Megophrys nasuta)
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After seeing a gathering of students down by the badminton court, I raced down to find this slippery character which had been driven out by the rain. My first non-anuran amphibian and a find I never even dreamed of.
Caecilian (Ichthyophiidae sp, I would love some species confirmation)
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Now I know it’s a herp page but I couldn’t help include just a couple of the awesome ants we found.
These guys are one of the largest species of ant in the world and were great fun to watch, but mind the chompers.
Camponotus gigas
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One of my favourite ant finds was this wicked guy. These species are restricted to S.E Asia and were far from abundant in the forests of danum. These trapjaw ants retract their jaws 270° backwards and swing shut in about half a millisecond.
Myrmoteras sp
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Among the species of gecko inhabiting the building were the epic Smith Green-eyed Geckos. A close relative of the tokay, they reached epic proportions. The one adult we manged to catch was 16cm SVL.
Smith’s green-eyed gecko (Gekko smithii)
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More rain got the frogs excited;
Dark-eared treefrog (Polypedates macrotis)
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File-eared treefrog (Polypedates otilophus)
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Harlequin Flying Frog (Rhacophorus pardalis)
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Malaysian horned frog (Megophrys nasuta)
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Tracking down the source of some impressive eyeshine led to a couple of lucky encounters with these little guys.
Horsfield's tarsier (Cephalopachus bancanus)
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A great find when a mate accidently bumped a small tree while trekking only to find this fellow fall out. He was perfectly fine though, both man and snake.
Blunt-headed tree snake (Aplopeltura boa)
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One of the large, female, Bornean Keeled Pit Vipers. that was hanging around the famous suspension bridge.
Bornean keeled pit vipers (Tropidolaemus subannulatus)
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Our time at Danum had come to an end and so we headed off to Volunteer for a week along the Kinabatangan.

On the first night we came across this pugnacious Mock viper. Taking mimicry to the next level, this colubrid restricts its circular pupils when threatened to imitate the slit pupils of viper species.
Common mock viper (Psammodynastes pulverulentus)
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Note the pupil
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Parental care in Anuran species is represented by many species globally, in Borneo there is the Guardian frogs. Eggs are laid under a leaf where the male stands guard. When the hatch they climb ontop of the male who carries them to water, a pretty nifty adaptation.
Rough guardian frog (Limnonectes finchi)
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And now to one of the smallest but best snakes of the trip. A mate found this weird snake dipping in one of the endless mud wallows along the paths. Instantly we knew what a great find it was.
Dragon snake (Xenodermus javanicus)
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This cute little bat was a neat find also, Cynopterus sp?
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A quick trip upstream brought us to the Supu Caves. Full of numerous Bat species and the Edible nest swifts I was sure we were going to find snakes. Alas, despite much searching, day and night we found none. We did however see a 1000year old coffin in one of the caverns. tarantulas covered the walls but were rather adorable compared to the creepiest crawly around, these giant cave centipedes (once again the size is not well shown, but trust me).
Tarantulas
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Giant cave centipede (Thereuopoda longicornis?)
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Coffin
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Rhacophoridae sp? ID would be appreciated.
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In the forests by the river we found a Green crested lizard in the middle of laying a clutch, her pic was quickly taken and was left to finish her business.
Green crested lizard (Bronchocela cristatella)
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We moved onto Sandakan to have a few nights with showers, feed up on Roti and try our luck at road cruising some of the rural areas. It was incredibly quiet and after two nights of cruising we only found a single alive snake, although it was pretty cool.
Sunbeam snake (Xenopeltis unicolor)
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With that I will bring this first post to a close. Keep an eye out for part two with more highlights from Sabah, including Kinabalu, as well as Sarawak and a smidgen of Mainland Malaysia. And yes, there will be more snakes.
Cheers :beer:


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 Post subject: Re: Borneo report Part 1
PostPosted: April 7th, 2018, 4:17 pm 
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Joined: June 9th, 2010, 5:51 am
Posts: 792
Location: Arizona
Great stuff! Thanks for sharing! :)

-Kris


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 Post subject: Re: Borneo report Part 1
PostPosted: April 10th, 2018, 6:03 am 
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Joined: June 7th, 2010, 4:26 am
Posts: 3422
Location: Illinois
Helluva post! Thanks for sharing. The inverts shots were pretty cool, I really enjoyed them. The viper near the bridge that's the stuff right there.

--Justin


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 Post subject: Re: Borneo report Part 1
PostPosted: April 10th, 2018, 10:07 pm 
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Joined: June 7th, 2010, 3:41 pm
Posts: 2063
Location: Connecticut
Nice report. I'm always thrilled to see caecilians, and the small dragonsnake is a heck of a find.


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 Post subject: Re: Borneo report Part 1
PostPosted: April 11th, 2018, 4:34 am 
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Joined: June 8th, 2010, 2:19 am
Posts: 3186
Location: Kuching, Sarawak (Borneo)
Very nice post! Envy you the Xenodermus! As far as I know, Camponotus gigas was recently given the new and IMHO much cooler name Dinomyrmex gigas. Yes, that's "Terror Ant" :-) That horned frog...are you sure it was nasuta? There are so many different hornies these days...

Excellent tarsier shots, too. Interesting that you found him by eyeshine. I've never seen that in them, see also the New York Times: "Most of the slow lorises’ primate cousins, including Old World and New World monkeys, great apes, humans, and also tarsiers, have lost the tapetum lucidum, presumably because of a common ancestor that was active during the day rather than at night." (Source)

Looking forward to the next part!

Cheers from Kuching

Hans


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 Post subject: Re: Borneo report Part 1
PostPosted: April 11th, 2018, 7:10 pm 
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Joined: March 19th, 2011, 6:43 pm
Posts: 1840
Nice photography :thumb: can't say I've ever seen spider hitching a ride on the back of a bat before....


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 Post subject: Re: Borneo report Part 1
PostPosted: April 15th, 2018, 6:50 pm 

Joined: March 19th, 2013, 2:04 am
Posts: 12
Porter wrote:
Nice photography :thumb: can't say I've ever seen spider hitching a ride on the back of a bat before....

Cheers Porter. To be honest I didn't even notice the hitch hiker, I wonder if they are a species of mite?


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 Post subject: Re: Borneo report Part 1
PostPosted: April 15th, 2018, 6:56 pm 

Joined: March 19th, 2013, 2:04 am
Posts: 12
Hans Breuer (twoton) wrote:
Very nice post! Envy you the Xenodermus! As far as I know, Camponotus gigas was recently given the new and IMHO much cooler name Dinomyrmex gigas. Yes, that's "Terror Ant" :-) That horned frog...are you sure it was nasuta? There are so many different hornies these days...

Excellent tarsier shots, too. Interesting that you found him by eyeshine. I've never seen that in them, see also the New York Times: "Most of the slow lorises’ primate cousins, including Old World and New World monkeys, great apes, humans, and also tarsiers, have lost the tapetum lucidum, presumably because of a common ancestor that was active during the day rather than at night." (Source)


Thanks Hans, that means alot from the king of Borneo herping. Ah yes they sure have gone through a name change and i couldnt agree more on the awesome Dinomyrmex.

I only presumed it was M.nasuta because it was in being lowland Sabah, would love to be corrected for a different species though.

In regards to the Tarsiers eyeshine, yes I have had a few people say that to me and i found it really interesting as I think every Tarsier I have seen were glowing beacons with standard looking bright orange mammal eyeshine. I will have to dig into the research a bit more.


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 Post subject: Re: Borneo report Part 1
PostPosted: April 15th, 2018, 8:22 pm 
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Joined: March 19th, 2011, 6:43 pm
Posts: 1840
weigi wrote:
Porter wrote:
Nice photography :thumb: can't say I've ever seen spider hitching a ride on the back of a bat before....

Cheers Porter. To be honest I didn't even notice the hitch hiker, I wonder if they are a species of mite?


Haha...yeah, nothing escapes these eyes. 8-) I was thinking mites at first too, but the legs look pretty long. I'm no bug expert tho. Could be the local species for sure...


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