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Friday, August 20, 2010

Madagascar Day 2: Madagascan Leaf-nosed Snake

26 July 2008. Still in the Exotic Reserve Peyrieras. They also had snakes there. Dangerous? Not really. Especially if the snakes have a comical spear shaped or leaf shaped nose. Hence the name Spear-nosed Snake or Leaf-nosed Snake (Bladneusslang).

In the pouring rain the pointy nose looked more comical since water drops were hanging on the tip. So. Lousy greyish light and rain. Ultimate photographing conditions :-)

And is this snake dangerous? No. An article describing Envenomation by the Malagasy colubrid snake Langaha madagascariensis tells you all. A researcher got bitten while he tried to measure the snake. These Leaf-nosed snakes are not your typical venomous snake. They even argue if it is venomous at all! It does not have fangs in the front of the mouth like with a cobra. It has to chew on you - your finger - to make sure via the back of its mouth it inserts its 'venom'. It causes pain, but is not really harmful. You really have to provoke this snake to get bitten. And even then: it has to be able to chew on you. Easy with a finger, not with an arm. Gentle handling - picking it up - causes no problem. Docile snakes. And actually quite pretty :-)

These snakes also have strong sexual dimorphism. The male has a distinct colour and nose shape. The male is left on the first picture and on the second picture. You have to be lucky to encounter snakes in the wild. I did not encounter these Leaf-nosed snakes in the wild, but did encounter a tree boa and a small water snake that slided over my bare feet - yeah - while I was taking pictures. But that story is for another time...

For those who like the biological details:
Click a link and you'll go to the Flickr photo page for that rank in the biological classification. Or have a look in the 'Find wildlife photos' menu item on the left.

Phylum: Chordata; Vertebrates / Gewervelden
Class: Reptilia; Reptiles / Reptielen
Order: Squamata; Scaled Reptiles / Schubreptielen
Suborder: Serpentes; Snakes / Slangen
Family: Colubridae; Typical Snakes or Colubrids / Gladde Slangen
Subfamily: Pseudoxyrhophiinae
Genus: Langaha; Leaf-nosed Snakes / Bladneusslangen
Species: Langaha madagascariensis; Madagascan Leaf-nosed Snake / Madagaskar Bladneusslang

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