Archives for posts with tag: herping
Suppon aka Pelodiscus sinensis

Pelodiscus sinensis submerged.

While doing some night herping near Fukuoka, Japan last year, I found this young Pelodiscus sinensis, Chinese Softshell or スッポン (Suppon), submerged near the shore of a large pond/small lake.  I’ve encountered these a few times before in the wild; however, this is the first time one permitted me to get within a few meters without bolting.  Actually, this one allowed me to get so close with the camera, I wondered if I was being set-up for a finger-nipping.

Introduction:

Last year, I had a week off from work in the middle of August, which happened to coincide with the beginning of Japanese Giant Salamander breeding season. I didn’t have anything better to do, so I talked a friend into accompanying me on a trip to search for Andrias japonicus in Oita prefecture, the only region of Kyushu known to harbor these awesome caudates.  I’d seen live specimens of A.japonicus, A.davidianus (Chinese Giant Salamander) and Cryptobranchus alleganiensis (the awesomely named Hellbender) in museums and zoos, but I was determined to observe a giant salamander in-situ.

Our plan was to take a train as close as we could get to the area where the salamanders are known to occur, walk the rest of the way (about 20 miles) to the site and camp out until we found the critters.

the route walked from Usa Station to our intended destination.

 

Usa Shrine:

An hour into our walk, we came to Usa shrine. With ponds and plenty of vegetation, there was herping to be done.

 

Glandirana rugosaGlandirana rugosa.  Common names: Wrinkled-Frog , ツチガエル (tsuchigaeru)

 

Fejervarya limnocharisFejervarya limnocharis. Common names: Alpine Cricket Frog/ ヌマがエル(numagaeru)

 

 

In between posting my monthly-ish dragon nonsense and the occasional dinosaur news item, I’ve decided do regular posts related to my herping activity in Japan.

Elaphe climacophora, japanese rat snake
Last September I got a call from a panicked apartment manager in Fukuoka, who asked me to remove a “giant snake” from his building.  Before contacting me, he called the police, who came and, upon catching a glimpse of the snake, told him to call the zoo and left (‘cuz that’s pretty much how the Fukuoka PD rolls). Well the zoo was closed, so one of my friends told the manager about a “snake-man” she knows.

I arrived half expecting to find a big Elaphe quadrivirgata (a japanese “rat snake”), the only species I had yet encountered in the middle of the city, or an escaped pet Python. The search for the snake started with me wading into the building’s trash cage (hence the blue rubber gloves) and concluded with me dissecting a couch in a vacant room.  Inside the eviscerated sofa, I found a near-chihuahua-sized rat* and this beautiful Elaphe climacophora (another japanese rat snake). Though certainly not a giant, this specimen does represent the (arguably) largest species that one can find on any of Japan’s main islands. E.climacophora is reputed to be somewhat nippy, but other than giving a threat display followed by a half-hearted strike, once caught, this fellow was pretty mellow.
After posing for more than a couple of cellphone photos (the hunt attracted a large gathering of tenants) I released my new friend in a wooded park on the edge of the city.

Elaphe climacophora, japanese rat snake

No more couch-rats* for you, buddy!

*If I can find about another half-dozen of those I can use the pelts to make myself a pretty sweet tunic