Sometimes ignorance is bliss. But when it comes to photographing snakes in the wild not knowing what kind of snake you are playing with is a bit dumb, especially when you spend twenty minutes playing with it on the end of a stick to get it positioned at the right angle for a nice shot!
Today started as a quest for lowland jungle birds at Ulu Langat, a forest reserve on the outskirts of Kuala Lumpur with Mike Kan another birder. In terms of birding the only interesting sighting was a pair of Rhinoceros Hornbills high up and far off, and that was it!
Then, as luck would have it, on the way down we came across a small Indonesian Pit Viper warming itself in the middle of the track. Not having a lens suitable to photograph the Viper we continued on down to the car. In the middle of our tea break a car with expatriates drove up looking for directions to a local waterfall. Their small child wanted to see the snake so back up the trail we went. Coming back down the second time we spotted the black and yellow bands of a Waglers Pit Viper or Speckled Pit Viper/Bamboo Snake as its more commonly called coiled in the vegetation on the edge of the trail. Not wanting not to get a shot of such a beautiful snake we changed lens and went up the trail a third time.
Speckled Pit Vipers are native to the jungles of SE Asia growing to 1m in length. Its venom is a powerful hemotoxin that is potentially fatal to humans if not quickly treated; something we were totally unaware of when we were positioning it for these shots. Anyway as I said, ignorance is bliss. If we had known what type of snake we were playing with, we probably would have been a little more cautious but I think we still would have done what we did to photograph such a beautiful animal.
The moral of the story is that the jungle may sound empty but its never empty nor neutral. There’s always something lurking somewhere. You just have to find it!