Tete , Northern Mozambique

Accounts and photos of non-captive reptiles in their natural habitat outside of South Africa. Try to record with your account details such as time of day/night, temperature, weather conditions, lunar cycle, sex, rough age of reptile, and so on.

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Re: Tete , Northern Mozambique

Postby Bushviper » Wed May 22, 2013 12:15 pm

Dodgy meat to say the least.

Pity you cannot get DNA from all the dead animals especially the reptiles. Possibly this can be arranged?
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Re: Tete , Northern Mozambique

Postby Sico » Wed May 22, 2013 12:59 pm

Arno, as always I'm collecting dna from both live and dead reptiles. No one else has asked me to collect samples of anything else I come across.
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Re: Tete , Northern Mozambique

Postby Bushviper » Wed May 22, 2013 5:40 pm

I am sure someone will be interested at some stage. If you have enough vials and alcohol why not do all the dead stuff. I am sure we can find homes for the samples. At some stage some scientist will want them.
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Re: Tete , Northern Mozambique

Postby Sico » Wed May 22, 2013 10:21 pm

This afternoon the machines turned out a House snake ,Boaedon fuliginosus , unfortunately mortally wounded which I dispatched quickly. A real pity, the 2/3 of the snake remaining were 800mm, so it was a decent sized specimen and very strikingly patterned.
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Shortly thereafter a Rhombic Skaapsteker, Psammophylax rhombeatus, was also killed, it was 800mm long as well. This was about 50m from where I found the P. tritaeniatus.
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Re: Tete , Northern Mozambique

Postby Westley Price » Wed May 22, 2013 10:29 pm

Great stuff man.

Are you sure that is P. rhombeatus? Looks to me like Psammophis subtaeniatus.

Jis this topic is making me jealous! I gotta get out and SOON.
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Re: Tete , Northern Mozambique

Postby Sico » Wed May 22, 2013 10:38 pm

Westley... You are right, I'll allow it ;)
Thanks for that correction.
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Re: Tete , Northern Mozambique

Postby Bushviper » Fri May 24, 2013 1:23 pm

Yeah the markings on the belly are a dead giveaway.

We have to hope that many of the other snakes are quick enough to get away from the equipment.
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Re: Tete , Northern Mozambique

Postby Sico » Fri May 24, 2013 7:51 pm

Arno I am sure that there are a great many snakes that get out of the way of the machines, otherwise this place is very poor in numbers. Another one of them that didn't though was this Megatyphlops shlegelii. Unfortunatley only the posterior half was present.
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Some Black-shouldered kites have also taken to hovering above the cut lines, obviously hoping to snap up some disturbed inhabitants
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A second P. edulis, again in hibernation, which i relocated safely away from the earthworks
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This rather large Salticidae sp jumped onto my ear while I was fiddling about under an Acacia tree. It was a most obliging subject.
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Re: Tete , Northern Mozambique

Postby Sico » Mon May 27, 2013 8:42 pm

Today was fairly eventful as far as snakes go. During our toolbox talk on the end of the cutline with the machine operators and spotters, one of them went a touch hysterical and shouted “Cobra!!” (everything here – legs + scales is a “COBRA!!!”), and out from under one of the freshly parked 4X4’s slithered a decent-sized Actractaspis bibronii, which I carefully necked (with thick leather gloves – having very little wish to experience THAT for a second time in my life) and managed to get some pics and a tissue sample before releasing some distance away from where we were working. I was quite surprised to see it active so early in the day, I always assumed that being more fossorial they would tend to be more nocturnal as well. There had been no earthworking machinery in this area for about 4 days now, but the machines were parked there overnight, so it is entirely possible that it was under one of them from last night and decided there was too much activity and was looking for a quieter place to spend the day. I first placed a stout stick across the back of its head to immobilise it and it turned around and struck violently to the point that I could feel it “tik tikking” on the wood with its fangs. Once I had it in the glove it calmed down quite nicely and allowed me to handle it without any fuss (firm grip on the sharp end of course)
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Returning with the guys lunches one of the spotters told me he found another “VERY BIG cobra!” that the D9 had killed a little further on, and after lunch he took me to where he had carefully laid it out (I love it when they are so eager to please), only to find a large 950mm Bitis arietans that had been cut in half.
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It was not all that fat compared to a lot I’ve seen, but otherwise seemed very healthy (considering the large numbers of rodents around not surprising). The guys were very interested when I pushed out the fangs so they could see. Sorry Arno, I don’t have anything big enough to keep heads in so they don’t stink my room out, but I’ll bring some larger containers back with me after R&R and get you those that haven’t been squashed. About 200m further on one of the spotters again wet himself shouting that there was another COBRA!! In the grass close to where I was standing. In this half Maize plantation/half weed plantation was another B. arietans moving quietly through the dried vegetation. It was stunningly marked and this picture does not do it justice.
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It was a bit smaller, at around 600mm. I just used a stick to prod it further away from us, and it willingly obliged without any attempt at defending itself. I don’t have any snake tools with me so I wasn’t going to take an unnecessary risk in catching it for a tissue sample, also not thinking that there would be much point with the other one so near.
On the way out one of the other spotters came over with a snake hanging off the end of his flag. Unfortunately beheaded, it was an otherwise very healthy Dasypeltis scabra (perfectly matching the pattern on the earlier shed skin I posted pics of).
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It seems that more and more of the snakes I expected to find are being found, for which I am glad. Hopefully I can get a few more interesting specimens in the next 6 days before I return to SA.
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Re: Tete , Northern Mozambique

Postby RJG » Tue May 28, 2013 1:23 am

Haha.
"During our toolbox talk on the end of the cutline with the machine operators and spotters, one of them went a touch hysterical and shouted “Cobra!!” (everything here – legs + scales is a “COBRA!!!”)"
They are not confusing all snakes with cobras. The word "kobra" means snake in Portuguese and being in Mozambique I'm assuming the workers speak Portuguese. I actually think the word "cobra" originates from "kobra" if I'm not mistaken.
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Re: Tete , Northern Mozambique

Postby Sico » Tue May 28, 2013 6:02 am

Funnily enough I did try work that out since I've been here. They use (in this region anyway) "Inyoka" for "snake" (Minyoka - worm), as well as "Serpente", which looks similar and closely matches the west African French pronunciation. They also do have a common (Portuguese) name for all the snakes I've found, so still not sure why they refer to everything by one name.
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Re: Tete , Northern Mozambique

Postby Mitton » Tue May 28, 2013 8:36 am

That second Puff Adder is really stunning, must have shed recently.

Thanks for sharing all this with us.
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Re: Tete , Northern Mozambique

Postby Bushviper » Tue May 28, 2013 11:26 am

I agree that second puffy is a winner. Glad it managed to get away.
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Re: Tete , Northern Mozambique

Postby Sico » Tue May 28, 2013 5:59 pm

This afternoon another D. scabra, this time with a head, unfortunately also dead.
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Shortly after that, walking further down the cutline, I saw a snake hanging over one of the droppers.
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One of the spotters had picked it up and left it visible for me – I really love it when they think out the box and use initiative! – From a distance I could see it was a very hefty A. bibronii, definitely the biggest I have ever seen. Measuring it out as you can see it was close on 600mm in that position, straightened it was closer to 700mm, and I estimate that probably about a quarter of the snake is missing. It had a girth of 50mm and felt good and solid.
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I managed to get some nice profile shots of the head, you can see how well adapted it is for its fossorial lifestyle, and then to show one of the operators the fangs I fiddled a little in the mouth with some forceps. Not huge fangs by any means, but the one that bit me many years back was a quarter of this one’s size and that put me in hospital for a week. I would not like a bite from a big one like this… and Arno, I got you the head of this one, hopefully it won’t go off during my trip back, but I will try and get a specimen bottle and some alcohol to put it in.
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Lastly in one stony area I found several trees that had been cut to make charcoal. The left over stumps were burned to ash on the spot, and I noticed a bunch of little cones in the ash, investigating further they turned out to be highly opportunistic ant lions, something I’d never expected to see living in ash…
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Re: Tete , Northern Mozambique

Postby levi_20 » Tue May 28, 2013 6:34 pm

Thanks for the thread Sico, very interesting despite the sad deaths.
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