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Slithering green beauties

The green vine attacks when it feels threatened --Photo: Raghavendra Joshi  

A slender green snake with elongated golden eyes? Enough to elicit a human screech and a hasty run indoors? The green vine snake (Ahaetulla Nasuta), however has captured the fancy of nature photographers, who trying to capture its beauty for posterity through their lens.

According to a snake site, the green vine snake is a slender green tree snake which is mildly venomous. It expands its body when disturbed to show a black and white scale marking and they may open their mouth in threat display and point their head in the direction of the perceived threat.

It gets its name – Ahaetulla -- from Sinhalese, which means eye striker since it is widely believed that this snake goes for the eyes of its attackers, striking them with its pointed snout and blinding them. This, however, has been proven to be a myth and no one has gone blind from an Asian green vine snake attack.

“I heard the sun birds call out in an agitated tone and I saw this size zero beauty in the branch up above. I got a couple of shots from my terrace,” says an excited Sivakumar Hariharan.

“One Saturday morning, I was on my way hunting for birds on my scooter,” says birder Prem Prakash Garg, “and I see some mynas playing with some green leafy looking stuff. I slowed down and realised that it was the green vine snake being bullied by the birds in the middle of a lonely road! Seeing me approach, the myna flew away but the snake was facing me, mouth opened and ready to attack. It was very aggressive as it had already been annoyed by the Mynas,” explains Prem, who went ahead and got the snake’s pictures from a safe distance.

This tree snake is found across India, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Myanmar, Thailand, Cambodia and Vietnam. The species is viviparous - giving birth to young that grow within the body of the mother, enclosed within the egg membrane.

Joiston Pereira says, “They feed on a variety of prey including lizards, birds, frogs, other snakes including venomous ones, rodents etc. There have been a few reports of the vine snake in Bengaluru. Looking at those wonderful eyes through the lens only show us how beautiful these reptiles are.”

Raghavendra Joshi, who has been going to wild life camps with Soulscope group, says, “The eyes of this snake is mesmerising. It is difficult to spot the green vine snake as it is well camouflaged with its surroundings.”

They are a diurnal and arboreal species which is active throughout the day at low to moderate heights in the bushes.

The snake is said to be rarely seen on ground and moves fast in the tree branches, but is slow on the land. Due to its thin body and green colour it can easily vanish into the green bushes.


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Printable version | Jun 14, 2021 7:18:58 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/features/metroplus/Slithering-green-beauties/article14003241.ece

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