The Pit Viper of Pasir Ris


*loudspeaker voice* Who here’s afraid of snakes?

You? You? And you? Well, if you are, be glad you didn’t meet this one. Probably one of the hardest snakes I’ve ever photographed. At least ten times I thought it was going to bite me; it was so active, moving up and down, I could even see its fangs, dripping with venom, and this one time it struck out and bit the air right in front of me, man, that snake was murderous –

And, also, asleep. If I had any trouble from photographing this reptile, it resulted solely from the fact that the light was fading; if I had a tripod, I literally could’ve set up a one second exposure and not have any fear of the reptile moving during that time. It was a statue.

Come night, though, I wouldn’t have wanted to meet it. This is a Shore Pit Viper (Cryptelytrops purpureomaculatus), also known as a Mangrove tree-dwelling pit viper (because *gasp* it’s found in mangroves and lives in trees), and is listed as Endangered within Singapore: its intertidal habitat ensures that Singapore’s constant reclamation of land puts it in more and more danger every day. It’s not like it can’t defend itself, though: it can get aggressive and strike out at people disturbing it. Other than that, however, it’s a fairly shy snake and camoflauges well with the tree branches it’s so fond of gripping onto with its prehensile tail.

Still scared of snakes?

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