Chasing snakes in Bali

Trip Start Feb 07, 2014
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Trip End Jun 19, 2014


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Flag of Indonesia  , Bali,
Thursday, May 29, 2014

with Bali being a lazy beach destination we got a bit tired of spending our days on the beach so we tried to find something worth to write about and fortunately i stumbled upon the facebook page of the Bali Reptile Rescue who organize guided night tours around Denpasar.

these guys educate the public and rescue reptiles including the venomous snakes that are very common all over Bali. We were very excited about the tour and a chance of seeing some interesting new species. We found out that they also planned to release a spitting cobra (naja sputatrix) that had recently bitten one person. Apart of the cobra the main goal for me was to see a boiga that even if not native to Bali can be found here.

we were picked up before 7 pm and to our surprise it was not a car but 2 bikes and we were heading first to the rescue centre -  we both like bikes a lot so the excitement started right from the start :) (being sarcastic, we are not big fans of bikes but it is the only way to navigate the crowded streets not to get stuck in the traffic) When i arrived my wife was already playing with a baby python and i got an amelanistic baby ahaetulla prasina that was absolutely stunning. i was hoping to see this species during the entire trip but this was the first time i saw it live. :)

next was the thrilling part of bagging the animals for a later release in the wild and with the spitting cobra being the first we were like kids before xmas. seeing the aggressive snake spitting and hissing, my wife was surprisingly a bit scarred and unusually very quiet but it was really an experience and we were watching with amazement the whole thing. Next was an adult White-lipped island pitviper (trimeresurus insularis) and the last snake for the night - a reticulated python (python reticulatus). the fourth animal to be released was a baby water monitor.

We got on the bikes and went to the first spot where we would first release the rescued animals and after that the plan was to find some biogas. After a short drive we got to a remote area with a river that was suitable for releasing all the reptiles and after a short walk the fun started as we had our first encounter with a wild snake - a baby pitviper that was on a hunt. Usually these snakes hide in trees and bushes during the day and when they are hungry they hunt during nigh on the ground small frogs, geckos or mice. Adults are usually ambush predators and wait hidden for the prey to come along before they strike. After some quality time with the baby snake we moved on and not even 2 minutes from this spot we found another pit viper and what was even a better found – a snail eating snake (pareas carinatus) that was hanging on a branch right over our heads when walking along the trial. We did not know what to take photos of first as this was one of the rare species that I always wanted to see, as well. The snail eating snakes are very tame and friendly so I was able to grab it and handle if for a while. At the same spot when we were releasing the trimeresurus and pareas I spotted a centipede hiding in the grass and while trying to take a decent photo Adrian from the centre helping me with a flashlight spotted another baby trimeresurus right under my nose. It was a foot from my camera. We moved on and got to a nice spot next to a river where the water monitor was released. We must have been quite in luck as we found another large pitviper and Agus showed me her fangs for a cool photo. While slowly going back we managed to see two more snail eating snakes and we released the python after I got a nice arm massage from him. After that we got to a nice little spot where the spitting cobra was released but not before we got plenty of really great photos and lastly the large pitviper was released at a bamboo bush.

Excited from seeing all the great animals and spotting the snakes in the wild we went to another place hoping to see some boiga dendrophila, an amazing rear-fanged colubrid that is known for its beautiful colouring – black with bright yellow or white stripes. The spot was located next to a small river flowing along rice fields, a perfect habitat for the mangrove snake (one of its names). Again we were in luck and this time we saw a yellow stripped baby and a very large white stripped adult. Both were incredibly friendly and calm and were happy to be handled. We took plenty of photos and were really happy as this was a perfect end to a great tour and one of the best experiences of the whole trip.

We would like to recommend this to anybody who loves snakes and reptiles or to anybody who would like to experience something different and thrilling. We also would like to thank the whole team of Bali Reptile Rescue who made this an unforgettable experience.
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