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Wildlife in Tropical North Australia - Tree Snake and Taipan

June 28, 2012 | Comments: 0 | Views: 209

Finished my morning work session and looking forward to my one coffee of the day, I headed back to the house. As I stepped through the studio door, something snagged my attention.

In the breezeway, on the cushion of a chair nearest the kitchen door, a slim green head swayed to train its button-bright eyes on my movement. The snake's length of a bit more than three feet ended a whip-like tail.

Its belly glowed a pale yellow, spolighted by the shaft of brilliant sunshine it basked in, recharging its batteries after the cool night of Tropical Winter. The well-defined scales of its back showed olive green until they merged into the pale yellow of its flanks, where they resembled colour samples for Hooker's Green in an art supplies shop.

Striving to cause as little disturbance of the air as possible, I sidled past and once inside the house, scrambled to load the camera's battery and get back before the beautiful creature decamped. I was in luck - the skinny fellow still needed more sun before he'd be ready for action - so he seemed content to pose as I snapped him from different angles.

  • Nature Notes

The colours led me to think of this visitor as a Green Tree Snake but a later check of our guide-book to local wildlife identified it as the Northern Tree Snake. The only differences I've been able to observe are:

The Northern has its eye set within a broad, dark brown stripe and its length is about half that of the mature Green Tree Snake.

Neither species is venomous and both are non-aggressive, except to their prey of frogs and small reptiles.

Both the Green and the Northern come in colours of brown, green,black or grey on their upper sides and yellow or cream below. Sometimes, the Green Tree Snake is reported in a blue-spotted form or in an allover blue form, rarely seen and a puzzle to scientists for some time.

  • The mystery was solved for us when a dead specimen turned up in our backyard. A few days of exposure stripped most of the scales from the snake corpse, revealing its blue skin.

These beautiful creatures are sometimes killed by householders who mistake them for their deadly lookalike - the Coastal Taipan.

From personal experience, I know how easy it is to confuse the two species. Late one afternoon, as I left the studio, the sinuous progress of what looked like a Tree Snake rivetted my attention.

Backing into the studio, I watched from behind the screen door as the snake progressed along the white tiles of the breezeway. Seeming in no hurry, the slender reptile gave me ample time to identify it.

You can bet I kept still and quiet as an audience at a great ballet performance until this slender star slid under the gate and was gone from the stage.

  • The Taipan is considered the world's most dangerous snake because its nervous nature makes it bite on the merest provocation. Its highly toxic venom is fatal unless medical treatment is quickly given.

As with any snake, the best course is to admire it from a safe distance, leaving it alone to go about its snakey business.

Dorothy Gauvin is the author of Conlan's Luck, An Epic Story of the Shearers' War. This little-known uprising of the 1890s has been called a 'Secret Civil War.' Scholarly texts have been published about this seminal and colourful period of Australian history, but Conlan's Luck seems to be the only novel yet published on the subject. Check out Dorothy's blog on the mystery,history and wildlife of Australia at http://www.bestbooksfor.com/oz-stories

Source: EzineArticles
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