R yelled over, ‘it’s a water snake’ as we clambered over to the rocks where he was pocking around with his reptile catching stick (please do check that link for a shot of a ‘pretty girl catching a snake.’ I shit you not).
As a word of explanation, S and I were in Sinharaja along with a bunch of peeps and R was one of the newly met said peeps, who was very into his wildlife. Hence why he toted the reptile catching stick everywhere.
Now I have seen water snakes before, a generally shy, slim brown creature with languid eyes that looked like it couldn’t hurt a fly. Finally getting to where R was near a rock pool into which a waterfall rolled into, R informed us that the snake had retreated into a hole amongst some rocks and he was going to get the guide to roll a rock down so we could get a good look at the critter. S and I eagerly agreed and made sure our cameras were on.
The guide rolled the rock…and then things moved on quite rapidly.
The snake came gliding out.
And it wasn’t brown or slim or exceptionally languid.
Instead it was black and white striped with a virulently red tail. It all but roared as it came out mouth agape straight towards me. I noted all this with some interest of course and came to the rapid conclusion that:
a) R got the ID wrong, I have no idea what this snake is…but it looks poisonous.
b) It’s coming straight for me.
c) Fuck, I was dead.
I could hear R yelling in the background, ‘Don’t panic’
To which I said (mentally), ‘Fuck you. There’s a great big snake snapping at my ankles, seemingly intent on making sure I never reproduce. And fuck you again. I’m not panicking. I’m just looking to get far, far away. Quickly’
It is surprising how many things go through your mind during these life or death moments.
Suffice to say I flew and/or levitated, loaded with kilos of photo equipment, up a sheer rock that was at least five feet high. Unfortunately in my excitement both during the event and post event, I couldn’t get a photograph of the snake. R was also so engrossed in taking a picture he accidentally released his grip on the snake which smoothly slipped into the water never to be seen again. Presumably he’s requesting Canadian refugee status right about now.
I later learned that the snake was in fact the Checkered Keelback, not the regular keelback and quite non-venomous. Of course better to be safer than sorry is what I say when there’s a snake trying to go at you like a demented Pekinese.
Better safer than sorry.
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