A Cane Toad and a Keelback

Well, with the insanity that is Xmas virtually over, (except of course for the nauseating commercialism), I thought I'd post a little bit of how we spent new years eve. It all began (as things do), with me holding my tongue at the correct angle, while measuring out vodka and assorted juices; when suddenly:

"Paulie! - Snake!" ...

I bolted to the door just in time to spy not one, but TWO Keelbacks heading in opposite directions. So there I was, in that profoundly flustered and confused state that occurs when normally retiring wildlife seem suddenly prolific. However, with what presence of mind I still possessed, I asked Jo to watch the area where one had gone, while camera in hand - I searched for the other.

Sure enough the one I was seeking seemed to appear from nowhere making a mad dash for some cover in a bunch of banana plants - at that exact moment Jo called, informing me that the other snake was heading straight for her.

Now, Jo knows these guys are non-venomous and she is without question my most trusted critter spotting companion - but the pitch of her voice convinced me that the snake closing in on Jo would be the best option for a pic, (not to mention our marriage), so abandoning mine, I dashed back.

There in the grass just a few feet from the wife sat a handsome and very wary snake. For a few seconds we all stayed quite still ... I slowly raised my camera in one deliberate movement, bringing the veiwfinder to my eye, attempting to focus through the heavy blades of grass when pop, pop, pop! - the bloody flash strobed. The poor little bugger must have wondered where all the lightning had suddenly come from, but he wasn't waiting to find out.

In moments he had turned 180 degrees making for the trusty old mower.

I'd like to point out here, that yes - I could've just wandered over and pulled the cover off the ride on, hoping to scare the snake out of hiding and get the pic. But frankly, I felt that the wee bloke had been through quite enough. So I decided to bide my time instead, if he re-appeared then great, if not - I'd leave him to his own devices.

Thus with the tropical sun plummeting, hungry mozzies needling me and the knowledge that the ice in my drink was quickly dwindling, I hunkered down to watch and wait.

As you can see, my patience was rewarded.

Most unlikely neighbors

Perhaps not the best pic, but getting a pic of predator and prey was worth the effort, even if that relationship isn't evident in the picture itself.

Keelback Tropidonophis mairii

Keelbacks are really a little bit special. They are the only snake that I know of with the ability to shed their tails under duress (known as autotomy). Unlike their lizard cousins with the same facility however, they are not able to regenerate it - so it's a one shot deal. They're also the only snake in Australia (so far and to my knowledge), able to successfully predate Cane Toads - albeit small toads. The amount of bufo toxin produced by large toads is typically fatal to the snake.

Whitelip in the trees

This fellow was on the move. We watched him leaping through the canopy of some of our tallest trees. In-fact I have never seen a whitelipped tree frog quite so far from the ground as this one was. Amazing, and I did wonder if a predator of some sort was the reason ...

And so the night meandered on. Bats came and went, some other frogs visited and all manner of insect fluttered, buzzed or flitted by - it was a top new years eve, spent with my favourite person.

Happy new year to you and yours. I hope the next 12 months brings you everything you need and nothing you deserve :)

I do not, in any way advocate drinking and messing with wildlife. Esp wildlife that could potentially kill you i.e snakes, crocs etc ...

I will not, under any circumstances, attempt to capture a snake (for relocation), if I have been drinking; photographing wildlife in my garden is something else altogether.

However, you and you alone are responsible for your own safety and if you even need to be told this; perhaps you're not long for this world anyway ...


  1. Haha. I love your disclaimer at the end, particularly the "not long for this world" part. ;-) Happy New Year to you and Jo. Thank you for the lovely photos and a little sunshine on a gray day.


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