The snakes of Baclayon

A couple of weeks ago, our friend Nory came over with her husband from Duero, to have a look at our native house and the garden. Wile Trevor was giving them a tour of the garden, Nory saw a small baby snake wrapped around the flowers of the Kalansuy (Kalanchoe).

A baby snake in the garden.

A baby snake in the garden.

What a surprise! Rather frightening but I was able to take close photos of the baby snake. It is beautiful. I think it must’ve fallen off the nearby coconut tree.

Although I have seen several grey-coloured snakes in Quezon City, it is only here in Bohol where I have seen so many colourful snakes. The names that people give the snakes here seem to correspond to some characteristic such as the colour.

Colourful back side of the snake.

Colourful back side of the snake.

An example is the Halulukay which is a long green snake that resembles the coconut leaf (lukay). Another is the ugahipon which is long snake with red belly and black and red spots along the sides like a shrimp (hipon). There’s a type of sea-snake called tag-wao which is so poisonous that it can kill a person in 8 (walo) days.

Other snakes here are udto-udto (noontime snake, has a yellow belly and black top), dupong (a short snake that “hops” along the ground rather than crawls), buyang-yangon (a red and black snake), banakon (a snake resembling the Philippine python but has a grey colour and a wider head, tangking (a black and white sea snake).

We have not been able to identify the baby snake in the garden, however. It seems most common and is probably the udto-udto.

In Dasitam there is someone called Gunding who is known to cure people of snake bites. Gunding practises folk medicine employing prayers and herbal poultices. However, I must learn how to treat snake bites on my own.

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Everyone’s afraid

Large dead snake.

Large dead snake

Here in Baclayon everyone is afraid of snakes. That’s not so hard to understand.

However, what I do find a bit hard to understand is how most people express their fear of snakes by killing them.

If I was so afraid of a snake, I would run away from it. But here, nope, folks don’t run away. They run after the snake to kill it.

The large snake in the photo above was killed by our friend Neria. It was in her garden fighting with a large tuko or spotted gecko.

Neria hitting the snake with a bamboo.

Neria hitting the snake with a bamboo.

I heard Neria fearfully yelling, and when I went outside, I saw her with a long bamboo stick (she uses this to pick avocado fruits), hitting the snake several times until it was dead.

So I was told later that the thin bamboo is the best tool to use when killing a snake. There was such a clump of bamboo here in Flor’s garden and one day I saw some fellow cutting a few bamboo stems. Penny told me that the guy as going to put those bamboo sticks under his bed to drive away the snakes.

This tuko was bitten by a snake.

This tuko was bitten by a snake.

Anyway, the snake that Neria killed was fighting with a tuko. Here’s a photo of the tuko, above. It really is quite unfortunate that such a beautiful creature suffered such a fate. Well, unfortunate for the snake too.

A smaller snake, common tree snake in Bohol.

A smaller snake, common tree snake in Bohol.

Along the path down to the market, I saw another snake. It as already dead. Someone – presumably very afraid – had cut its head off. These are all common tree snakes, I believe. These are supposedly poisonous, and a quick remedy for snake bits is something called the Cobra Vine – a climbing plant that resembles the ampalaya or bitter gourd plant.

Recently, I saw another snake, this time inside the house. It was in the kitchen and it looked very different from the common tree snakes I’ve seen earlier. This was darker in color. Penny told me that it was a common house snake called “ulupong.” Now, that must be some mistake because ulupong is the Philippine Cobra, the world’s most dangerous snake!

Anyway, I don’t fancy killing snakes as long as they don’t bother me.

Dead tuko.

Dead tuko.

Here, above, is a photo of the tuko again, a few minutes after it expired. Ants have started gathering around it.

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