#237 Boo-Lait's Kukri Snake

Critically Endangered

Around the World in 80 Days - Day 29

I'm cheating here. We will be getting to Singapore with Phileas Fogg tomorrow. These snakes live on the Island of Tioman which is actually on the other side of Malaysia. I wanted to do something other than a bird or a fish since that seems to be the main things we've been finding along the way.


There have, from what I can find, only been 3 specimens used when describing the species, and they do not know how many there are. The most information I have about them is more about the genus as a whole, not the specific species of snake. There are 78 species in the genus Oligodon, and it seems this is the only one that is critically endangered thankfully. It is a Kukri snake, named after the shape of the rear fangs they have which resemble the Nepalese kukri knife. They use those teeth to slit open eggs as they swallow them which makes it easier to crush and digest them. They aren't venomous, though they do have a gland that seems to release an anticoagulant. They mostly eat eggs, though they will also eat small rodents, lizards, etc.. The snake and their territory are not protected. The forests it is thought may be gone within 10 years. If the forests go, there is not much hope for the snake.


I struggle with doing paintings of snakes. I want to show every single scale, but with the painting being so small, watercolour, and absolutely needing to be done in one day I end up with something that can be rather frustrating. See, with oils, acrylics, or even digital, you can add highlights later, building the depth as you go. My brain works more in the oil type method. Remember, I had only ever done a mere handful of watercolour paintings before starting this project. I am learning as I go essentially, and for many of the animals I am tolerably comfortable painting them. I would love to show every single scale on snakes, but I don't have the time to do that let alone the confidence in the medium. I chose instead to do the neck where the scales are smaller, and then more hint at all the scales on the rest of the body. I am thinking that maybe when this year is done, I should do a painting a week and do oils or acrylics instead. It would be more expensive as far as supplies, but I could go a bit larger as well. I could go for very tiny canvases and try for a painting a day, but it would be fun to have more time and be able to put more details in. Honestly, I come up with all sorts of new ideas while I am chatting here with you, and sort of thinking out-loud I guess you could say. I'm quite liking this idea though. That, along with broadening my criteria to endangered and extinct before 1900. This would become a project I could continue until I am no longer able to paint at all. We shall see, I still have about a third of a year left in this project!

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