Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Waking Up A Bamboo Viper

A few years ago this blog was mostly about cultural topics of interest to me in the countryside of south-central Taiwan’s western coastal plain. Since moving up to the relative isolation of the mountains, there has been less to observe on the cultural front. Instead, my recent blog entries seem to be more about terrors of nature!

For example, yesterday a customer at the restaurant next door commented that they saw a snake sleeping in a cubby hole above them. Low and behold --- a few minutes later family members caught a bamboo viper (青竹絲 Trimeresurus Stejnegeri) which had been hibernating just a few feet away. It quickly awoke from its hibernation and went berserk!

My photographs of the snake inside its jar tonight were quite fuzzy due to my hesitance to open the jar and wipe the inside clean. I was very careful when releasing it  a few minutes ago as well! That’s because this wiki entry says the following about the venom:

It has a potent hemotoxin. The wound usually feels extremely painful, as if it had been branded with a hot iron, and the pain does not subside until about 24 hours after being bitten. Within a few minutes of being bitten, the surrounding flesh dies and turns black, highlighting the puncture wounds. The wound site quickly swells, and the skin and muscle become black due to necrosis. The size of the necrotic area depends on the amount of venom injected and the depth of the bite.2013-12-11 21.14.43photo-1







Here’s a clearer picture of the same kind of snake photographed by someone in this same mountain village:

On a related note, just a month or so ago someone found another kind of (mildly poisonous) snake inside the main fuse box a few feet away (whose switches we flip regularly without really checking to see if anything might be lurking inside). Luckily, I have yet to touch or step onto anything when putting on my shoes outside, etc.