Tete , Northern Mozambique (part II)

Accounts and photos of non-captive reptiles in their natural habitat outside of South Africa. Try to record with your account details such as time of day/night, temperature, weather conditions, lunar cycle, sex, rough age of reptile, and so on.

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Re: Tete , Northern Mozambique (part II)

Postby Primogen » Thu Aug 01, 2013 12:18 pm

Awesome finds, That caterpillar looks to be the larvea of a Cactus moth(Cactoblastis cactorum).
“The animal needing something knows how much it needs, the man does not.” — Democritus
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Re: Tete , Northern Mozambique (part II)

Postby Sico » Sat Aug 31, 2013 10:53 am

I got back on site last Sunday. The week has been pretty much spent in the office sorting out new stock, but I did manage to get into the field for a few hours.
There is a lot more birdlife out at the moment, and Spring is definitely here with a lot of the trees coming into blossom and a lot more greenery. I have been shown lots of cellphone pics of snakes that were found while I was away, mostly puff adders and Moz spitting cobra’s. I will get these pics and post them during the week sometime.

A few of the birds that I snapped in the past week
Crowned hornbill – Tockus alboterminatus
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Little bee-eater - Merops pusillus
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Green Wood hoopoo – Phoeniculus purpureus
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And something I have been looking for since I got here Dispholidus typus! This stunning male, in the blue, was basking in a tree right next to where to excavators were busy making one of the big cuts on the project. The tree (more of a large bush) has a hollow trunk that the snake was going in and out of. I presume it will move off once it has shed, I am going out birdwatching tomorrow and I will see if it is still there and try and get some more pics. It has been seen in the same tree three days in a row now.
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Re: Tete , Northern Mozambique (part II)

Postby croteseeker » Sat Aug 31, 2013 6:29 pm

Man, I would love to see some boomers in the wild. Nice photos. :D
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Re: Tete , Northern Mozambique (part II)

Postby Sico » Tue Sep 03, 2013 8:51 pm

Ok this one is quite a long one…
Some of the more interesting birds from the weekend…
Grey Hornbill
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Swallow-tailed Bee eater
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Diederik Cuckoo
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Blue Waxbill
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A couple of Firefinches
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Some arachnids I have found over the last two days…
Selenopidae sp
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Some decently sized Hadogenes sp (maybe H. bicolor?)
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I have found about ten this size so far.
Uroplectes sp (possibly U. flaviviridis)
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Some insects
?Papilio sp
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a really large Weevil type beetle (bigger than a Tenebrionid beetle)
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Pair of Bugs
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This really interesting mantis was running around where all the grass had been burnt off. The camouflage was particularly suited to the surroundings. I don’t know if this is a species that is always black, or if it has changed due to the grass fire season, any thoughts?
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Whilst birdwatching I stopped off at one of the excavations we had made which had filled up with groundwater. I noticed that it was full of spawn, with a large number of tadpoles already swimming about. There was some old shade net lying in a pile close to the water, and when I lifted it I found what I presume to be the responsible adults… Amietophrynus sp
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This morning whilst I was out turning over rocks on a nice outcrop, I saw this lizard sunning itself. I estimate the size to be close on a meter, it disappeared before I could get any more pics of it, and was nowhere to be seen this afternoon when I went back for a second look. I think it may be a Gerrhosaurus sp
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In the same area I found this part of a tail, from what I assume to be the same species
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Yesterday afternoon I was a bit bored on site so started walking around flipping rocks on the off-chance I may come across something. One very large rock I turned over had what was left of a rodent nest under it, and closer inspection revealed a small B. arietans (roughly 800mm) curled up in the grass. Very nice colours on it with lots of reds and browns.
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and a little way off I found a B. arietans skeleton (determined by some of the belly scales lying nearby and the size and shape of the ribs). Unfortunately I could not find the head anywhere
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The following are two pics taken by my colleague when I was on leave. I am pretty sure this is a N. mossambica (looking at other pics of a very similar looking snake that was DOR within a few metres of this a week later). Unfortunately these are the two best of the ones he supplied me, The red line I marked on the one is for scale, and that width of the tyre tracks is 1.8m.
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These are pretty substantial specimens occurring around here and definitely way bigger than any I have seen within SA. The other pics of the DOR one also show it to be a BIG snake. This particular area is one of the sandy places with a lot of scrub growing on them, close to a large woodland, and these snakes have been sited there fairly regularly (but only when I am not here )
More pics to follow!
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Re: Tete , Northern Mozambique (part II)

Postby kfc223 » Wed Sep 04, 2013 7:17 am

Another great post.

I really like that B. arietans, interesting colour.
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Re: Tete , Northern Mozambique (part II)

Postby Bushviper » Wed Sep 04, 2013 1:06 pm

Some really nice stuff you are finding up there. I have been told the Gerrosaurus up that way grow to a metre in length. I thought it was a fisherman's tale but it seems to be true.

That last cobra looks more like a Snouted cobra to me. What are the chances that you are within range of N. nigricollis or Forest cobras?
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Re: Tete , Northern Mozambique (part II)

Postby Sico » Wed Sep 04, 2013 9:17 pm

BV, outside the recorded range of N.nigricollis, and where this snake was seen was VERY borderline the range of N. melanoleuca, but I wouldn’t say the specific habitat where this one was seen would be that favoured by this species… 4km to the north where the temperature, humidity and flora become decidedly more tropical with the mountains in Malawi I would think would be a much more suitable habitat.
This is one of the bigger Naja sp that was DOR very close to where the live one above was photographed. Sorry about the poor photo quality, these guys have decent digital cameras but either don’t know how to use them, or they are too scared to get close up to dead snakes…
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Today I was called to this Psammophis sp that had been disturbed by some excavators. I am at a loss as to which one it is though, any thoughts?
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One of the surveyors showed me pictures of another different Psammophis that was killed only a hundred metres or so away from this one, also today, I will go and see if I can find it tomorrow and take better pics and get a sample.
The D. typus has shed its skin, which I found blowing in the wind, and collected
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Another of the foremen showed me pics yesterday of a Telescopus that had been killed by a dozer. Unfortunately he did not bring me the dead snake, it would have been the first time I would have seen one in the wild, but I did ask him to go back and get me the remains so I could at least get a specimen. He hasn’t let me know that he has it yet, but hold thumbs I maybe find a live one still. At least I know they are around now.
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Re: Tete , Northern Mozambique (part II)

Postby Warren Klein » Thu Sep 05, 2013 8:23 am

Looks like you are having a great time up there Mark. That's a Gerrhosaurus validus, the Giant plated lizard. Your Mfezi looks to be somewhat of a giant as well.
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Re: Tete , Northern Mozambique (part II)

Postby Bushviper » Thu Sep 05, 2013 8:29 am

That looks like a snouted cobra to me despite the rearrangement of the head scales by the spade.

On the grass snake I am even less sure. Would still suggest Olive grass snake to me.
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Re: Tete , Northern Mozambique (part II)

Postby Sico » Thu Sep 05, 2013 9:22 am

BV I'm also stumped with the Psammophis... I've looked at pics of all the known species here and whilst there are some similarities I don't see anything the same. The black colouration down the neck is unusual. I don't think it's P. philipsi though, as I saw two of those here yesterday and they look quite different. The one DOR I found this morning (pics later) had slight dorsal head markings, and the broken "dotted" line down the sides of the ventral surface, whereas the one from yesterday pictured above had an unmarked belly. Unfortunately only my East African Reptiles book has proper keys and scale counts, and I don't have it with me at the moment.
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Re: Tete , Northern Mozambique (part II)

Postby Westley Price » Thu Sep 05, 2013 10:04 am

Nice pictures Sico!

I also recon the dead cobra is annulifera.

With regards to the Psammophis, the black pattern on the neck is highly unusual, but I have seen this on injured sand snakes (old injuries).

I vote the species is P. mossambicus; unstriped belly, fairly uniform ventral colour, spotted upper labials, etc.

Compare yours (ignoring the black of course) of these pics:

http://calphotos.berkeley.edu/cgi/img_query?enlarge=0000+0000+1206+1036

http://www.ispot.org.za/node/175943
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Re: Tete , Northern Mozambique (part II)

Postby Sico » Thu Sep 05, 2013 9:38 pm

Looking at the pics Westley showed, I would agree that it would be Psammophis mossambicus (Syn P.phillipsii). The large one that I checked this morning was totally flattened, and the markings on it were very poor but it is also the same species. The body was so damaged that the pics aren’t really worth posting.

I did get some better pics of the G.validus (easier to see what it is when you can see the body)
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Also whilst out in the bush flipping rocks again I came across one of the local’s rat traps that had been sprung.
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I noticed some bones lying around it that looked suspiciously familiar.
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On lifting the rock, there was a slightly strong odour of decaying flesh, and a rather flat B.arietans head stuck to the bottom of the rock.
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I am sure this is a rather unusual casualty in one of these traps, it would be interesting to know whether the snake was just moving under the rock for shelter and sprung the trap, or whether there was a rat that was eating the maize kernels that the snake struck at or exactly how the whole thing went down. Either way, most of the snake was scavenged by something else (probably other rats) as there were only a few scraps of bones and scales lying around. Seemed like a fair size as well.

Not far away I found this gecko under a rock. Any ideas as to an ID? Unfortunately I did not get any more pics as it made a hasty exit under a rock slightly smaller than my Landcruiser and none of the heavy earth moving machinery were close enough to get it moved :lol:
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Unfortunately the Telescopus remains disappeared during the night (scavenged?) so I’ve lost that one, anybody caught any in the wild before that can provide some suggestions as to where to find any (ie up trees, under rocks/dead wood etc) as I would really like to spend a day or so in that area to find some to photograph.
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Re: Tete , Northern Mozambique (part II)

Postby Warren Klein » Fri Sep 06, 2013 8:58 am

That Psammophis looks almost identical to the ones I commonly get here in Northern Angola on the opposite coast all the time. Have a look at this one I caught here yesterday for comparison. I think the black marks on your specimen are nothing more than just old scared scales which I have also seen before. I would have also though P. mossambicus but I am waiting for DNA results to confirm.


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Re: Tete , Northern Mozambique (part II)

Postby Westley Price » Mon Sep 09, 2013 3:07 pm

Still awesome pics, haha.

I think your unidentified gecko is Afroedura sp, one of two species, A. transvaalica and A. loveridgei. I do not know the difference between the two so cannot help more than that.

Regarding Telescopus, I have had best luck on roads at night to be honest. Not as exciting as finding them in the wild, but it's effective. Also, I have found them in vacant termite mounds after fires.
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Re: Tete , Northern Mozambique (part II)

Postby Sico » Tue Sep 10, 2013 10:20 pm

Thanks guys. Be interesting HH to see what the DNA tests reveal.
Westley I'll be keeping an eye out for them. The internet has been messing around the last couple of days, got some nice pics to put up when I get a decent connection again.
We move out to our camp in the bush tomorrow, so scratching around at night has now become a real proposition and I'm eager to see what I can find.
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