Wednesday, March 18, 2015

A Case of Misidentificaiton

One fine night, I was wandering through the back woods of campus catching Cane Toads for a masters student's research project. Bats zoomed in and out of the road culverts, catching the mossies our DEET repellent feebly fended off. As we walked through the bush, we waved a stick aimlessly up and down in front of us to hopefully avoid a face full of spider web. I also enjoy bringing a choice stick, just in case I find a snake I'd like to catch or take pictures of.

 Our mission was to catch female toads for a dissection study; also in hopes of removing pregnant females from the wild. As I walk up the dry creek bed of smoothed over river stones, I spotted a pair of large bright eyes, and as I approached the toad I noticed it was even a female. Excellent! Success after small effort, and the search continues.

 As I stumble up the stony creek bed, toad in one hand and stick in the other, I notice a movement to my left. As my head swivels toward the movement, I noticed it was a snake! What luck! But I didn't have my tongs or tubes and this looked convincingly like a King Brown snake. After I cautiously rounded the snake to under a rock, I sprinted back to my dorm, grabbed my tongs and tubes, and returned to the rock. My Safe Handling of Venomous Snakes training served me well as I confidently tubed the snake for identification. And to my chagrin, it was only a harmless Keelback Snake. Though not the glamorous King Brown Snake I had originally thought, it was still a new species for me :)

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