Sunday, 3 August 2008

Green Whip Snake - Mistaken Identity

When I was young I always heard folks talked about the extremely poisonous "GREEN BAMBOO SNAKE". They were so afraid of this snake that all green coloured snakes they encountered were given a wide berth or where possible killed on sight (in fact this applied to all snakes!) and because they dreaded this creature so much that even the stick they killed the snake with was thrown away in case it was contaminated with the snake's venom! Even today this policy hasn’t changed much even though people have become more educated about snakes.

By virtue of its colour, the docile and quite harmless Green Vine (Whip) Snake (Ahaetulla prasina) was, and in many cases is still, thought to be highly poisonous and is called GREEN BAMBOO SNAKE by many ethnic Chinese. I just realized that this is a fallacy handed down from the time of our early migrant forefathers who, having newly set foot on Borneo, mistook this snake for the deadly Green Bamboo Viper Trimeresurus stejnegeri that was common in their native China.

Photo: A green whip snake having its photo taken.
Notice how close the snake is to the guy and how
brave S M Lo the photographer is!

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