A Viper Near You.. and Sexual Dichromatism

20 August 2012
Many urbanites have not been exposed to nature for so long that when they saw me post photos of snakes shot in our local parks, they’d go “Singapore got snakes meh?”. Most of our local nature parks and cycling trails are home to numerous species of snakes. Many of us don’t see them because most would avoid proximity to humans by instinct.

The Pit Viper however, does not normally slither away when human presence is detected. As an ambush predator, it waits motionlessly and patiently for unsuspecting prey to approach and would not retreat as easily as other snakes.

Some of my earlier sightings of Pit Vipers were blogged here:

Wagler's Pit Viper (Tropidolaemus wagleri) - DSC_3790#1 Large adult Wagler’s Pit Viper (Tropidolaemus wagleri) just at the side of the path, but overlooked by hikers and cyclists.

Wagler's Pit Viper (Tropidolaemus wagleri) - DSC_3837#2 The juvenile is bright green while the adult has black/yellow/green stripes

Wagler's Pit Viper (Tropidolaemus wagleri) - DSC_3806#3 The broad triangular shaped head is a strong tell-tale characteristic that it is a viper

Wagler's Pit Viper (Tropidolaemus wagleri) - DSC_3796#4 I was using a 200mm for this shot. Wouldn’t have tried to go closer.

Wagler's Pit Viper (Tropidolaemus wagleri) - DSC_3855#5 Flapping it’s tongue at us. A snake does not stick it’s tongue out for fun. The tongue serves to collect information around it. With the tongue flapping going on, particles latch or dissolve onto the tongue’s moisture, and is subsequently retracted and inserted into 2 sensory organs (Jacobson’s Organ) located at the roof of the mouth to be “analyzed”. I suppose that’s one of the reasons why a snake’s tongue is forked. ūüėõ

Wagler's Pit Viper (Tropidolaemus wagleri) - DSC_3858#6 These are called “Pit Vipers” because of the deep pit between the eye and the nostril. These pits are highly sensitive to heat and helps them to strike their prey with deadly accuracy even in complete darkness.

Wagler's Pit Viper (Tropidolaemus wagleri) - DSC_3866#7 Curiously staring at us

Wagler's Pit Viper (Tropidolaemus wagleri) - DSC_3874#8 Despite our irritating presence, it did not attempt to move away at all

Wagler's Pit Viper (Tropidolaemus wagleri) - DSC_3878#9 Just stayed curled up and moving it’s head so very slowly

Wagler's Pit Viper (Tropidolaemus wagleri) - DSC_3892#10 These snakes are nocturnal, which could explain the relative sluggishness too

Wagler's Pit Viper (Tropidolaemus wagleri) - DSC_3902#11 Staring into the heat-sensing pits

Wagler's Pit Viper (Tropidolaemus wagleri) - DSC_3914#12 Final shot. The heat-sensing pits are so big that others often mistake them to be the nostrils!

Some other notable subjects for the morning include a pair of sexually dichromatic Huntsman Spiders, water boatmen and a fulgorid planthopper.

Sexual Dichromatism refers to the difference in colour between a male and female animal. The following photos show a pair of Huntsman Spiders with an obvious difference in colouration trying to mate.

Huntsman Spiders (Sparassidae) - DSC_3632#13 A pair of Huntsman Spiders (Sparassidae), probably trying to mate

Huntsman Spiders (Sparassidae) - DSC_3636#14 Flipped the photo around for a better view. ūüôā

Huntsman Spiders (Sparassidae) - DSC_3651#15 View of the female’s face

Huntsman Spiders (Sparassidae) - DSC_3653#16 The mating didn’t seem too successful yet

Huntsman Spiders (Sparassidae) - DSC_3665#17 A wider view shows that they were trying to make out in between two leaves

Huntsman Spiders (Sparassidae) - DSC_3667#18 Both fell to the ground but that did not stop them from attempting their love ritual

Huntsman Spiders (Sparassidae) - DSC_3678#19 The pair were exhibiting sexually dichromatic colours – green female, orange male.

Huntsman Spiders (Sparassidae) - DSC_3689#20 Face to Face with the male

Huntsman Spiders (Sparassidae) - DSC_3691#21 He doesn’t give up!

Huntsman Spiders (Sparassidae) - DSC_3692#22 The abdomen of the female is typically larger than that of the male

Huntsman Spider (Sparassidae) - DSC_3695#23 Not too successful, the male went off to hunt for food…

DSC_3703#24 Odd looking caterpillar, walked like a leech!

Lynx Spider (Oxyopidae) - DSC_3720#25 Tiny little Lynx Spider (Oxyopidae) guarding her egg-sac

Lynx Spider (Oxyopidae) - DSC_3730#26 These spiders would not retreat easily when they are with their eggs.

Lynx Spider (Oxyopidae) - DSC_3734#27 Top view of the mother

Fulgoridae - DSC_3756#28 Fulgorid Planthopper nymph?

Water Beetle - DSC_3768#29 The rain brought about some little ponds of water, and inside we found some water beetles!

Water Boatman - DSC_3775#30 While on the water surface, there were some Water Boatmen (Notonectidae)

Forest Ant with Water Beetles - DSC_3777#31 A forest ant had drowned, and many water beetles surrounded it

Forest Ant with Water Beetles - DSC_3779#32 All going for the abdomen!!

Ants - DSC_3605#33 Two ants communicating with each other?

Ants - DSC_3610#34 Or were they fighting?

Ants - DSC_3617#35 This went on for quite a while.

The full album can be viewed here.



Hi my name is Nicky Bay. I am a macro photographer, instructor and book author, travelling the world to document the vast micro biodiversity that nature has to offer. Follow my updates and discover with me the incredible beauty and science behind our planet's micro creatures!

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