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Certain species of snakes I simply never find. As a snake rescuer working only in coastal Goa I only encounter about twelve odd species in people’s homes. For anything outside of the twelve species I rely on my friends (the one’s who rescue snakes of course!).
Recently one of my friends called me up to discuss something about snakes. We chatted for a bit and then as he was about to hang up the phone he suddenly remembered a trinket snake he had rescued from someone’s house. ‘Do you want to take some pictures of it’ he asked me nonchalantly.
‘Of course I do!’ I shouted with glee. I could hardly contain my excitement. The only time I had ever seen a trinket snake was when I was training to handle snakes at the Pune snake Park over fifteen years ago!
The same evening I went over to my friends house to see the snake. My first impression of it was that it seemed quite big and strong. The snake was about a meter in length and twice as thick as my thumb.
When I checked my snake book I realized that this wasn’t unusual at all. Apparently they did actually grow quite big! The book also correctly identified the specimen to be a Montane Trinket snake and not a Common Trinket snake. Apparently the Montane Trinket snake is endemic to the Western Ghats and not found in other parts of India.
The snake was very inoffensive and made no attempt to bite as my friend handled it and I snapped away with my camera. I was testing my new 17-40 mm lens and I hoped to get some good pictures of it. After about four minutes of photographing the snake we let it go back in the forest. When I got back home I loaded the pictures onto my computer. As I scanned through the images a sense of horror began to creep into my heart. Not a single of my images had turned out any good. Apparently I had no clue as to how to shoot with my new lens. So much for feeling like a professional photographer!
But as luck would have it two months later my friend found another Montane trinket snake. This time I went to his house fully prepared. Trinket snakes are quite glossy snakes and therefore reflect quite a bit of light which shows up as glare in strong sunlight or under the influence of a flash. I was prepared for the glare this time though. I had with me a polarizer filter fitted onto the front element of my same 17-40 mm lens. I had already tested the filter photographing a python the previous month and was very satisfied with the results!
I spent a similar four minutes photographing the snake. And this time when I checked my images back at home I had a big smile on my face. The polarizer filter, as it turns out, had done a pretty good job of controlling the glare bouncing off the snake’s smooth body!
Facts about the Montane Trinket snake
1. Trinket snakes will eat lizards, frogs and small birds. Like the common ratsnake they are also prodigious rat eating machines!
2. The Montane Trinket snake is a viviparous snake (giving birth to live young)