Monday, February 2, 2015

Snake Trek with Reptile Rescue in Bali

Patrick spent 2 days with the people from Reptile Rescue in Bali. They make over 800 house calls a year, all for free, just because they love snakes and don't want them killed.  Before they formed their business 5 years ago people who found a snake almost always killed it, poisonous or not.  Now many people in Bali have come to know and appreciate snakes, and even value them as pest control, only calling for relocation when the dangerous ones are found.  Reptile Rescue makes it's money from people like me and Jeremy, another guy on the trek with me, who pay to come along.  They also took us out to some great spots around Bali to find snakes.  This trip was extra special because it was the annual release of about 40 baby king cobras.  Each year they find at least one nest too close to people, so they take and incubate the eggs, then release them when they hatch, lucky timing for me. 
 They picked me up at our hotel in Ubud with a car full of many kinds of snakes to release.  Peter, the owner immediately handed me a bag with a grin.  Inside was a baby civet cat which I was asked to feed milk on the way to our hotel (Pic and more info at the end).  
We drove for a couple hours to a more remote part of Bali and checked into our hotel.  As I was putting things in my room Peter yelled for me to hurry up.  I came running out to see him on a scooter "Quick we've only got a little bit till someone kills it!" Peter knew absolutely everything about snakes but he wasn't so good about keeping us informed about what was happening.   We took a crazy ride down a rocky sandy road to a locals house and ran around back.  The whole extended family was there and very excited and anxious.   In the roof of their gazebo was a reticulated python.  Peter let Jeremy and I get it, which took us too long and Peter was rolling his eyes, but Jeremy eventually got its head and we brought it back to the hotel, holding it while on the back of the scooter.  A baby, about 3 months old and over 3 feet long.

Next we took out the baby king cobras.   I thought they were joking when asked if I wanted to hold one.  They aren't aggressive until about a week  old so it was perfectly safe.  I was still very nervous at first, crazy adrenaline rush.  They tried to go up my sleeve.  Such pretty snakes.

slug eating snake we later released, harmless.

Then we had lunch.  As I was finishing Peter and his crew suddenly started grabbing their stuff with firefighter like energy.  "Get your sytuff, we won't be back for a while!" Jeremy and I were informed.   We sped off in the car to a Balinese farm far from any town, a place where few white people go judging from the looks I got from the people, especially the kids there. There was a big snake in the house, curled up in the utility room.
Peter's colleague Eddie got it out.  A small (9 foot) king cobra.  We got some pictures in the family courtyard.  We then spent a half hour searching the rest of the farm, but didn't find anything. 
Then it rained so hard we couldn't drive, so we stopped at an indoor badmitten court to check out a larger king they had recently rescued.  13 feet or so.
Eddie showing off with Jeremy and I.
Once the rain died down we headed to the national park to release the baby king cobras.  I was no longer afraid they would bite.
Peter and I checking out the baby kings.

That night we went to a river with rice paddies nearby to find snakes and release a few reticulated pythons, the longest was about 10 feet.  2 spitting cobras were first but they were fast and I only got very blurry pictures and a quick movie.  Then we went hunting.  Bronzebacks were everywhere,  I managed to grab a few.

Also saw two pit vipers, one we could get close to.

We were very lucky to find a krait, one of the most poisonous snakes in the world.   I got to hold the back end with supervision, but I had to put the camera away.

Then one more look at our reticulated python before letting it go.  Very sad.

bye bye to my first retic.

The next day we visited a great spot in the jungle but didn't find anything.  We went on a call but there was nothing there, a family thought they had a spitting cobra in their garden.    We released another retic as they call them.  It disapeared quickly for a 12 foot snake, we moved a few leaves for a pic before saying goodbye.

Then I finally got a picture of the baby civet cat, which isn't a cat but related to a mongoose.  

The end.

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