Mossman gorge far north QLD RBB?

Discussion in 'Reptile and Amphibian Identification' started by Chondrobsessed, Apr 23, 2013.

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  1. Chondrobsessed

    Chondrobsessed Active Member

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    Hey all saw this big black boy cross my path (exactly where by foot was going to be) yesterday in the daintree rainforest right by a creek. It was about a meter possibly bigger and about 5cm in diameter at the widest part, his scales where thick, and he looked up at me just after I noticed I was about to step on him he seemed to have a pale cream belly. He had a definite jaw contour. The pics I got are pretty crap, wasn't going to get too close just in case. What do you guy think he could be?
    I also spotted two Boyd's!
    aps.jpg
    Let me know if the pic isn't working its behaving a little different to usual
     
  2. saratoga

    saratoga Well-Known Member

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    Long and slender and a glossy black; my guess would be a Slatey Grey Snake based on the photo
     
  3. Brodie

    Brodie Very Well-Known Member

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    Yeah looks like a slaty to me as we'll. They are pretty common around there. The head shape, (from what can be seen) central and dorsal scale colours scream slaty grey.
     
  4. Chondrobsessed

    Chondrobsessed Active Member

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    I did actually say slatey grey to my partner when I saw it, but when I looked it up it says size 90cm and the pics looked too brown that's what made me then think RBB. I'll be a bit impressed at myself if it where a slatey!
     
  5. Brodie

    Brodie Very Well-Known Member

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    Hi mate, slatys can exceed 6foot no worries. Most I see are around 5ft.
     
  6. Bluetongue1

    Bluetongue1 Guest

    Unfortunately you are not going to get a conclusive ID from that photo alone. We can obviously get it down to a choice of two – either Slaty-grey or Red-bellied Black. I have been looking at and thinking about it for several days but still could not come up with anything definitive.

    My personal opinion is that it is most likely a RBB. The stoutness of the body, particularly the way it thickens not far behind the neck is more of a RBB trait. And you estimated the mid body diameter to be about 5 cm – which is pretty stout for its length. Never easy to make accurate field estimate of sizes but you were in the best of positions to do so. The pale dark edged scale visible at the bottom of the side look more like those of the last lateral layer of a RBB than the ends of a Slaty-grey’s ventrals. I should point out that a percentage of northern RBB have highly reduced to zero red pigmentation on the sides of the belly and even the lowest line of laterals.

    The colour appears to be deep glossy black rather than the dark steel grey/black of Slaty–greys. The head is unfortunately not in good focus but I would expect a Slaty-grey to exhibit cream colour on the upper labial and snout area, which I feel should still be at least partly visible. The all-over black appearance of the side of the head is in the photo is more indicative of a RBB. However, given the limitations of the photo, I am not prepared to put too much weight on that.

    In terms of size, Slaty-greys max out at just over 4 ft (1.3 m = 4 ft 3 ins) according to measurements of collected specimens. A moving snake invariably looks longer than it is in reality. It has to do with our eyes and perception rather than any ability to judge length. I know – I’ve been there, done that, got a rude shock!

    Blue
     
  7. Brodie

    Brodie Very Well-Known Member

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    Hey blue, I'm a bit nervous about disagreeing with you, but here goes!

    Slatys get bigger than 4ft, up in the territory anyway. Ask Thomas madden, Ben Phillips or Rick Shine. I spent 3 years working on their project at fogg dam and they can be mightily big. They were properly measured, we didnt just rely on guesstimates. Perhaps the QLD ones are a bit smaller? Is 4ft the SVL? That would fit I suppose, as most seem to be 4.5-5ft in the NT

    Interesting that you mentioned RBBS. You have got me wondering as well. I dunno though, it just looks too long and skinny to be a RBBS.
     
    Last edited: Apr 26, 2013
  8. Bluetongue1

    Bluetongue1 Guest

    Brodie, I am as fallible as the next person and just as prone to getting things wrong. I do not mind being corrected because that means my information is incorrect. I would, of course, like my information to be as correct as possible and I do not wish to be passing on incorrect information, no matter what the source. I see being corrected as a learning exercise – something I value!

    I actually considered adding into my original post that if the sizes of the Slaty’s could be verified, then that information should be passed on to the museums, as they are obviously working with out dated data. I went back and checked the four references I used and 3 out four state this is the maximum length or the total length. I note that AROD states 1.3m as the species average. From your validation of longer lengths being common, the AROD statement is evidently the most accurate statement that is closest to being representative of what is actually out there. It would seem apparent that even AROD’s statement needs revision to be truly representative.

    As for identity of the snake in question – not an easy one. Body proportions can overlap between the two species. However, the lowest lateral scales are, to my mind, much more RBB like than Slaty like. Slaty’s also have a greyish-purple iridescence on sections of their body under the correct angle of light but they lack that all-over gloss of RBB’s that seems to be apparent in the photo. The head appears to be more rounded and less squared off that that of a Slaty but I don’t trust this photo to make that call. I cannot be 100% certain but I’d reckon around 80% likely to be a RBB versus a Slaty-grey Snake. That is simply my considered opinion.

    Cheers,
    Blue
     
  9. Chondrobsessed

    Chondrobsessed Active Member

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    Thank you both for your answers, and for your reasons. I really appreciate that you took it so seriously with such a crap image, the others I took where out of focus and completely useless.
    I was just excited to see a couple herps on our trip!
     
  10. Bluetongue1

    Bluetongue1 Guest

    Much appreciated and you are most welcome. I know that excitement and I also know it is the icing on the cake to get an ID if you can. It is also enjoyable to be able to give an ID if one can. A bit like pitting your wits to work out a puzzle. Cheers.

    Blue
     
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