Friday, June 15, 2007


Here vids of some of the ones I've caught, as mentioned




Tuesday, June 12, 2007


Since posting this, I've been reading more about the symptoms from this snake's bites, and I decided that I don't think it was smart to catch it. I don't think I'll do it again, and I certainly don't recommend doing it. But it is a pretty snake, and I am uploading a video of its release on Youtube, that I will post when it is approved.

I found this snake (name - "Yamakagashi") while walking down to the Kawa-Uchi campus today. It is venomous, but it is rear-fanged so envenomation is difficult. It is also fairly non-aggressive, which is why I caught it. The Mamushi (the other poisonous snake in the region) is also venomous, but it is front fanged and very aggressive. I wouldn't have tried to catch that snake.

Saturday, June 09, 2007

I'm tellilng you - this place is surreal

Japan is amazing. The list of things I see that surprises me keeps getting larger and larger. Just for kicks, I brought my camera today, and here are some of the crazy things I saw on the way to work. [enjoy]

1) A bug that looks like something from StarWars Episode V. It's trying to blend in with a PVC pipe, I guess.

An unusually painted person wearing hardly any clothes (he had some sort of loin-cloth on) running down Aobayama:
A very bad-tempered Aodaisho (Japanese rat-snake). Ok... I walked over to the river for this one. But it's roughly on the way to work.

Guide to handling (nonpoisonous) snakes

Snakes are completely fascinating to me. When I see one, instinct takes over. I sacrifice all dignity, and plunge/lunge/chase after it. If you have ever looked at a snake, and wanted to catch it/hold it, here are the general guide-lines I use.

* disclaimer - I am just a guy who likes snakes, not a professional snake handler of any sort. Some guy out there might see that this is totally ridiculous. But it's worked for me.*

1) Check if there are any poisonous snakes in your area and memorize what they look like and all (ALL) their variations.

Example: last weekend I grabbed a poisonous snake because it didn't look like the local species of viper. = Dumb. But, after having done an extensive search, I now know all the safe and unsafe local species. = ok.

2) If it is poisonous, don't grab it. (duh. We're not those guys on the discovery channel.)

3) Move slowly and get as close to the snake as you can before it starts to escape.

4) When it sees you and starts to escape, you can:

a) Take your chances and grab any part of the snake that's available. I normally don't actually grab it, I normally flatten out my hand and pin it to the ground, then grab it behind the neck with my free hand. [This will work if it is a very small snake, and either it won't bite, or you are not worried about the bite.]

b) Grab it by the tail. This works better for larger snakes. If you grab it by the tail, it normally will try to continue escaping. This means it will be stretched out\. This is a prime time to grab it right behind the head. If it turns to strike at you, let it go, because if it strikes you'll get another chance. Don't pull the tail hard or you can hurt the snake.

c) Go straight for the neck. This is the only completely safe place to hold a snake, but it's the hardest to get at, because you can get bitten trying to grab it here. However, if you grab it here, there is no way for it to bite you.

d) Just pick the snake up. Most snakes won't (believe it or not) try to bite you. It will just keep trying to get away. Keep moving your hands, arms, etc, so that it keeps looping around your hand when it tries to escape.

Safe hold:

5) For A-C give the snake a while. When you grab it behind the head, it gets pissed off. This means that, for a few minutes, if you release the head, it might try to bite you. If you just hold it for a few minutes, and wait until it relaxes, then you can try letting it go. For option D, the snake will be least stressed, and generally if you let it try to escape for a few minutes it will just stop after a while and perch on your arm.

6) Don't move fast, you got to move slow, or you will freak the snake out. Then, when you are done, just let it crawl off you somewhere that people won't try to kill it.

* If you get bitten. These are not instructions for a poisonous bite. These are just Tim Marston un-certified-but-these-have-worked-for-me techniques *

1) DON'T try to jerk or fling the snake off. Snake teeth are curved inwards, and you will tear your skin that way. It is much much better to let the snake un-clamp by itself. Normally they let go almost immediately.

2) If it has not let go, put the head of the snake underwater. It will let go because it needs to breath.

3) If there is no water, if you put pressure on the hinges of the jaws that will force the snakes mouth open.

4) Because I'm obliged to say this - wash and disinfect the area bitten. It won't actually hurt a huge amount. Snakes have hardly any chomping power, but they got sharp teeth, so it will feel like a bunch of needles, and normally it bleeds a lot.

* Angry snake expressions *

Snakes are normally pretty clear about when they are unhappy. After both of these shots it struck at the camera. But, it looks relatively unhappy - the head is elevated, and the neck is coiled to strike - so I was expecting it. Sometimes a snake will try to bite you when it is not coiled, but normally it is slow, in these cases, and you can avoid it. (DON'T BLAME ME IF YOUR SNAKE IS A LOT FASTER THAN MINE AND YOU GET BITTEN THOUGH)

It bit the polarizer after this shot: