In August while on a trip across peninsular Thailand we had an encounter with a snake that is very rarely seen.
That day my friend and local guide Mint had been shown a photograph of a snake from one of the other hiking guides. The photograph showed a juvenile Indo-Malayan mountain pit viper (Ovophis convictus) which had just had a feed with a large bulge in its belly, a first record for the area and a very rare encounter. With this in mind, we thought that it would be possible that the snake would not be far from where it was seen several hours earlier as it would now want to digest its meal. We had a rough idea of where it had been seen so just after nightfall we began hiking into the forest.
Several hours later, already feeling tired and dehydrated from the extreme humidity, we reached the spot where the guide had described seeing the viper. We carefully began searching the area, only looking on the ground where these rare snakes usually live. It was like looking for a needle in a haystack as the forest was dense and the ground covered with leaf litter and large rocks. It didn’t seem likely that we would find such a small snake here. After some time we decided that we needed to begin making our way out of the forest as we were running low on water. Then as I sat on a rock to change a battery in my torch I looked down to see a familiar pattern among the leaves near my foot. It was the mountain pit viper!
The snake was in fact only metres away from where it had been seen by the guide during the daytime, but its camouflage was so excellent that we had walked past it several times while carefully searching.
Back in Phuket and over the past few months I have seen the typical snakes for the island as well as some rarities which I will share in a future post.