PAPUA NEW GUINEA 2013

Oro Province
Mamba
(second visit)

When we got to Mamba we unpacked and organised ourselves, planning to go spot-lighting on the estate roads once it got dark.

We drove the tracks for a couple of hours without seeing anything but then heading back in from the oil palm nursery area we encountered a large Brown treesnake (Boiga irregularis) lying across the road. I caught it and was very impressed by its size. We would later measure it at 2.25 m long, only 25 cm short of the PNG record and the largest I have captured here, my previous best being a 2.1 m specimen in the Mekeo of Central Province. From the large soff bulge it was likely the snake had eaten a large rat. This is why the plantation needs to protect non-lethal snake species. These estates, Mamba in particular, have huge rat problems but the workers keep killing the greatest allie out there, the pythons and other snakes that would help them diminish the rat populations. That the meal was a rat would later be confirmed when the treesnake regurgitated it in my bathroom in the middle of the night, a very pleasant discovery when I went for a shower in the morning.

Attempting to demonstrate the length of the largest
Brown treesnake, Boiga irregularis
I have caught in PNG
2.275 m as best could be established from a live snake

In character with its species this large Brown treesnake was extremely aggressive when photographed the following day.

Brown treesnake, Boiga irregularis
2.275 m Brown treesnake, Boiga irregularis striking to camera
mouse-over and click

 

A little while further we met with a 2.0 m Southern white-lipped python (Leiopython hoserae) also lying across the road and also captured, just in time it seems because two-minutes later a man with a bush knife appeared, introduced himself as Kingsford and told me the python was nambawan kaikai (very good to eat), intimating he would have killed it had he found it first. Kingswood offered to show us some good snake areas the following day.

1.86 m Southern white-lipped python,
Leiopython hoserae

Back at the Mamba Guest House I organised all the specimens and equipment in my room. We had been forced to bring the Sangara small-eyed snakes (Micropechis ikaheka) with us as it would have been too dangerous to leave them at The Ridge. I tried to make it very obvious to the haus meris (girls who clean the rooms) that where the venomous snakes were so they could avoid them, by hanging the bags from a rail in the bathroom.

Do not cross the red tape line!

The girls had another option, they just didn't service my room!