PAPUA NEW GUINEA 2013

National Capital District
Port Moresby
Charles Campbell Toxinology Centre

When the elapids arrived back in Port Moresby they were taken to the Snek Haus and put into individual quarantine.

I sorted out seven quarantine boxes, one each for the Oro New Guinea small-eyed snakes (Micropechis ikaheka) and checked each snake, placing them in the death adder room in a two-storey line and leaving a warning note for Jasper who has a habit of walking around the Snek Haus barefoot.

Sorting out the small-eyed snakes
on the floor of the Snek Haus
And lining them up in theiir individual
quarantine boxes

I then checked some of the other occupants of the Snek Haus before picking up some more boxes to take back to the apartment for the Müller's crowned snakes (Aspidomorphus muelleri). In the afternoon I carefully processed these six excitable little venomous snakes, catching each one, measuring it (snout-to-vent and total length), scale counting (dorsals at midbody, ventrals, subcaudals), sexing it and then obtaining details head scalation photographs (dorsal, right lateral, ventral, left lateral) and then full body photographs, coiled on a small set. After that each snake went into an individual box. All this took quite a long time as I tried to avoid taking a bite in the process. Fortunately I was successful in that respect.

Taking ove the kitchen for photography and specimen work,
Müller's crowned snakes,
Aspidomorphus muelleri,
boxes stacked on left of picture

Dave and Simon were out doing training at a health centre and when they returned I when I went upstairs for dinner only to discover two more snakes they had picked up from the clinic, dropped off by someone who found them in his yard in Waigani, Port Moresby. These little snakes are also what one would term "lesser elapids" ie. venomous snakes which are not considered "medically important" like taipan, balcksnakes, brownsnakes, small-eyed snakes or death adders.

They were a pair of Brown headed snakes (Furina tristis) a species confined to the southern coastal lowlands of Central and Western Provinces, and northern Australia. Inoffensive they were not difficult to photograph when I went back downstairs after dinner.

Brown-headed snake,
Furina tristis

The following day I decided to award myself a lazy day, I think, after over 2.5 months in the field I deserved a day off, a day without fieldwork or even much lab work, a day catching up on the computer, working on this blog, taking it easy, doing something like herp photography etc. (but is that really a day off for me?)

If I was in the UK I would have been at the Safari Park today, it was August Bank Holiday Monday, and also a public holiday in PNG. If I ahd been in the UK I would have been busy with reptile encounters etc, so in Port Moresby, I decided to work at my own sweet pace.

Dave and Simon did not have such a quite day, they were out at the ExxonMobil site doing snakebite training for the doctors, nurses and paramedics.