A green visitor

Filed in Dogs of our Lives, Hong Kong Wildlife, Photo of the Day

A few weeks ago, I returned home with some of our children after taking them for their nightly walk. While taking their leashes off, they seemed very curious about something in one corner of the court area where our gas canisters are kept. A couple of the dogs even displayed sudden reactions to something that I could not at the time see in the dark that is night.

After letting the dogs through to the main garden area, I went back to take a look at the gas canisters. I was curious too and wanted to see what had them acting so unusually. It didn't take me long to spot the reason. A green snake was wrapped around the tap of the gas canister looking pretty scared. I guess I would be scared too if several dogs one hundred times as large as myself suddenly started poking their wet warm windy noses in my direction.

I couldn't leave him there. It was too dangerous and I couldn't be sure that he'd find his way back to the bush from whence he came, so I had to think of a way to move him. The first thing I did though was grab my camera because he was a really nice looking snake.

A green visitor

The green snake was wrapped around the tap of the gas canister, feeling just as nervous of me as I felt of him.

I don't know if it was the multiple flashes from the camera as it tried to focus on the snake in the dark, but the snake remained fairly quiet as I photographed it. I was actually quite nervous about getting too close to the snake because he was still standing in defensive mode and I didn't feel like getting bitten.

I gathered a barbeque fork and a large white bucket. The idea was to use the fork to encourage the snake into the bucket whose smooth sides would hopefully keep the snake from slivering out while I transported it back to the bush. Imagine my surprise when the snake wrapped itself around the fork and stayed there.

I quickly put the bucket down, moved around to an area of the house with better light and took a few more pictures. The pictures were ok but not great. Perhaps because of a lack of experience or perhaps because I didn't have time to set up everything perfectly, none of the photos were accurately focussed. There were still two good photos though and I'm glad I have them because the snake with its green body, yellow belly and red tail looked incredible.

Curled tight

He (probably a male because the colours are relatively sharp) wrapped himself around the bbq fork and remained there, quiet and calm.

Having taken the photos, I walked out to the bush behind our garden and positioned the fork and the snake wrapped around it near the branches of a small tree. The snake very quickly moved off into the tree and I returned home to study the photos.

I liked the photos so much that I've converted one of them to be the background on my Nokia phone. He looks real cool and I guess it's appropriate anyway because I'm actually a 'snake' person; born in 1965.

What was rather peculiar about that night was the conversation I had with our elderly neighbour that very morning. She was going on about how she had instructed her relative to cut back the branches on a couple of trees next to the path we use to come and go from our homes. She was worried about snakes coming down from the trees and biting people and I was thinking that she was worrying just a little too much. It's really strange that the green snake would appear in our own garden that very night. Weird!

The next day, our maid came looking for me and asked me to look at Beethoven. I was surprised to see his nuzzle swollen so badly but knew immediately what had happened. He didn't seem to be in any discomfort though and a call to the vet assured me that if the snake bite was deadly, Beethoven would have died within a couple of hours of the bite.

Swollen, nice and round.

Beethoven's nuzzle was quite swollen in the morning; big and round. There is no lens distortion in this photo. His nuzzle really was this big! If you look closely, you can see the two puncture marks about half way between his nose and his eyes.

It must have been the week of the local snake gathering because a few nights later, we saw another snake. While driving home late at night with three or four cars behind us, I saw something shimmering near the edge of the approaching road. I slowed down and had more than enough time to realise that it was a snake planning to cross the road. I stopped the car completely, much to the cagrin of the drivers behind us, and waited for the snake to cross the road. It was a python, probably at least five or six feet long. As he crossed the middle of the road, a minibus was approaching from the other direction. Typical Chinese people living in our area wouldn't think twice about running over a snake on the road and I flashed my headlights at the driver hoping to slow him down. He slowed but not enough and continued straight down the road. The snake was lucky. He managed to compress himself; like you would compress a spring; just enough to fit between the right and left wheels of the minibus as it passed over him, and he then continued safely to the other side of the road and climbed or rather jolted himself up the embankment and into the bush.

I knew we have pythons in the neighbourhood. I just never expected to be lucky enough to see one. My only regret is that I wasn't able to get out of the car and take a picture. I don't think the cars behind me would have appreciated the wait.

It's a rather interesting neighbourhood when I think of it. We have snakes, interesting birds (there are a few very unusual birds I'd love to photograph if I ever get the chance), monkeys, large spiders, large lizards and even wild bores (ie, pigs). There are also some very interesting flying beetles, one variety of which had relatives in the local news a few weeks ago when it was reported that the furniture in the new Disneyland hotels was being eaten from the inside out. They beetles are called wood borers and I've observed them making homes in the bamboo in our garden. I find it interesting to watch them using their bums to block the entrances to their nests in the bamboo when it rains. Maybe I'll show you photos of them at a later date if I can get a few great shots.

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22 Responses to “A green visitor”
  1. Eileen says:

    The pics you took for the snake are gorgeous!!! But at the same time, you're very brave!!! LOL, I'd have ran away if I saw the snake =P

  2. 河國榮 says:

    Eileen,

    you have to remember that almost all animals prefer to run rather than attack. if you're cool and sensible and don't get in their way, they'll leave you alone. if I'm scared of anything, it's probably monkeys because they are too smart for their own good, and can often get mean. so far, I've been lucky with the monkeys so I'll keep trying to get photos of them when possible.

  3. sapphire says:

    我的三哥說你相中的可能是青竹蛇,如果是真的話,會有毒的。他還說每當有大風雨來臨時,那些蛇就會四出活動。(如果他有甚麼講錯,唔關我事呀!我只是替 "老三" 傳話給你知。)

    你家附近真的是動物天地,甚麼都有,很有趣。我們家後面的小山崗附近都是動物天地,但有的動物跟你有的完全不一樣,我們常見的是 Elk,Coyote & Squirrel。牠們有時還闖進後園偷花草果實吃,這些情怳我們都會用九秒九的時間拿相機把那些可愛的時刻拍下來。我都覺得某情度上人和動物(包括 wildlife)都可以和平共處,如過我們不主動去嚇驚牠們,基本上牠們都懶得去襲擊其他人。

  4. Benkaiser says:

    Isn't a good omen for a snake to come into d house in Chinese superstition? more so a green snake...Chaeng Seh.... or Ching Ser in mandarin, which sounds like puritan snake lol

  5. Arthur Heng says:

    Gorgeous looking snake!

  6. Eileen says:

    Thanks a lot for replying my comment, when I went to indonesia years before, I saw monkeys trying to grab tourists' camera and spectacles, my grandma was one of the victims, haha!

  7. Winnie says:

    I really enjoy reading your postings!

    I am scared of insects... especially bees. I freak out as soon as I hear the buzzing noise. It's terrifying. I scream for my dad when I see spiders and such in the house.

    However, I do love the animals around the neighbourhood. We have squirrels, racoons, and even wild rabbits. Not to mention all the beautiful birds around.

    Although it was quite worrisome when the racoons has invaded into our attic this past winter. We would heard them running around all night (they sleep during the night), from one side of the house to the other. It was pretty scary. Not to mention the cost to fix the roof after we have sent them an "eviction notice" lol. It's bad to have wild animals living in the attic because they may have diseases that would spread through the house's ventilation and it's bad for the structure of the house - they scratches the wood and would cause damage.

    I was wondering, can I post picture here? I have a picture I could share... :)

    Take care!

  8. Aiwah says:

    Wow! Such amazing photos! I'd be the same as Eileen and run a mile though if I came face to face with the snake. Good job we just have squirrels in my back garden. Hope Beethoven's ok now!

  9. Christine says:

    Your photos totally changed the impression I had on serpents being cunnning, evil and deadly!

  10. 月色清香 says:

    What a beautiful snake! Well done, for the photos and the snake!

  11. 河國榮 says:

    Winnie,

    I've thought about it but I cannot afford to post other people's pictures here (this'll probably get me in trouble one day). you could post a link though.

    sincerely,
    Ho Kwok Wing

  12. Alison says:

    The snake looks gorgeous. Very nice pictures btw. I think this is the incident that u mentioned at the SPCA road show the other day, eh?

    How's Jason? Have u heard/visited him lately?

    Take care and don't work too hard.

    Cheerio,
    Alison

  13. Felix says:

    Haha.you are cool man.if i saw snake the first thing i gonna do is to leave it alone and don get near to eat.if possible...run.haha

  14. Winnie says:

    Hello! I can certainly understand why you couldn't post people's picture here. But here is a link:

    http://tinypic.com/9ius92.jpg

    I just thought I could share. :) This is a beautiful bird. My friend says that it's a 喜鵲.

    My neighbour drives me to the bus stop every morning on his way to work so I don't have to walk. One morning in late July, I was waiting as usual and I saw this bird hanging out in our front yard. So I had to take a picture - good thing I had my camera. Hope you enjoy it!

    Have a good weekend!

  15. oakton says:

    wow, you are the Steve Irwin of HK!

  16. sapphire says:

    Mr. Ho

    I’d like to invite you guys to share with me the fun of my online photo album. This photo album is all about the lovely wildlife found in our neighbourhood only.
    It’s best viewed with Firefox and Netscape. IE will chop off lower part of all photos and caption if you select photo show. But it’s okay for image overview.
    Hope you guys like it. Have fun!

    http://sapphire0920-photoalbum.magix.net/

  17. 河國榮 says:

    Winnie,

    that's a nice bird. I don't think we have anything like that here in HK.

    Sapphire,

    it would appear that the elk are not afraid of the people in your neighbourhood. that's cool. the grass looks pretty dry though which is strange because there's snow all over the place. is the weather cold there at the moment?

    I like the coyotes, probably because I like dogs ;-)

  18. sapphire says:

    Mr. Ho

    The photos with dry grass and snow were taken in fall and winter years ago. The daytime high temperature now is about 23ºC and the grass is still green. It’s cooler than HK but not cold.

    LBNL, I’m looking forward to reading your article from am 730 on Blog.

  19. yinyin says:

    wow...
    i never been to hk before due to due the media, hk is a badly polluted city and has lost all of the native animals because of the urban consolidation and clearing of lands. it is amazing to c, how many wildlife you c in your back yard. I always c lizards, possiums, and kangeroos nearly my school ( because my school is next to parramatta river)...
    Any regards:
    Yin^_^

  20. Cryptelytrops says:

    Hello, i just read your story and must say you'r dog was quite lucky. The snake in the picyures are an male Cryptelytrops albolabris ( earlier known as Trimeresurus albolabris )allso called "White lipped plamtree viper" They are an venomous arboreal snake that does not hesitate to bite. Nice pictures and a BIG thank you for saving the snake insted of killing it.

    Cheers, Cryptelytrops

  21. Cherie says:

    Wow! I love your photo of the snake (the second one). It's amazingly sharp and crystal-clear. (In fact, it even rivals those of the National Geographic magazine!) I must commend you on a job brilliantly done!

  22. Glen says:

    It is so amazing the wild life you ave in HK. I get excited when I see any animal and take as many photos as possible. My brother would have kept the snake for a while and shown it in his house. Oh and the Photo's are pretty dam good if you ask me. Yes your dog is lucky, if it was a tigersnake hed be gone how and that would be so sad. Glen