See the amazing video Farmer Lu took just minutes after I called him out to the garden.
We interpreted the turtle’s presence as an auspicious omen for the coming year.
Given the number of snails in our Urban Micro Garden, we though seriously about closing off a section of the yard to keep the little reptile as a pet.
Since the turtle had been hibernating, we put it in a little box under a lamp in the living room to spend Chinese New Year in peace.
Then we decided to release it in the wild at nearby Wat Umong, the forest temple just a few minutes’ walk from our home. Given that the weather was already starting to warm and the frogs had started to sing, we decided that the turtle would probably be happier in a wetland, rather than in Beaffin’s heavily-patrolled domain.
Here’s the video by Farmer Lu of me (Farmer Jack) releasing the turtle in the turtle and fish pond at Wat Umong.
We named her (we think it was a she) “xiao ma gui“, which means “little (year of the) horse turtle” in mandarin Chinese.
This fellow was sunning himself strung along the kale pots. This guy was close to a meter long and very curious about me.
If I have correctly identified this snake, as a golden tree snake (Chrysopelea ornata) then he’s probably long gone by now, or in the attic. These reptiles can climb very fast, race along flat surfaces, and even fly. Mostly they’re content to eat small rodents and frogs and probably want nothing to do with small dogs.
I spent the rest of the day indoors or planting seedlings, which did not require leaving the back porch. I felt safer from the snakes there until, as I was cleaning out my “junk pile,” I discovered a 20 cm snake skin, probably from the Laotian Wolf Snake I see slinking sometimes at dusk.
I’m writing about snakes so much to try to lose my fear of them, but not my respect. Being in a subtropical garden, even in the city, requires mindfulness.
I was helping the neighbor in her garden when she picked up this beauty with her bare hands (by accident) as she was bagging leaves.
We’re thinking it might be a Russell’s Viper (Daboia Russelii or Russelii Siamensis) or something similar (possibly the harmless boa, Gongylophis conicus, but the markings look different). Of course, we’re hoping that it’s a nonpoisonous snake species, not, as Wikipedia puts it, “one of the species responsible for causing the most snakebite incidents and deaths among all venomous snakes on account of many factors,such as their wide distribution and frequent occurrence in highly-populated areas.”
I wish we’d gotten a shot of the head.
UPDATE: It seems we have a Boiga multomaculata (many-spotted cat snake), which is a constrictor and harmless to humans. Hooray! One more non-poisonous snake identified in the neighborhood).