Sunday, February 28, 2010

Pretty "Roachie" Roach

am sure that some of you have seen something like this: 

This creature's existence dated as far back as more than 280 million years. This female here was laying or carrying her egg case and believe it or not, this was my first time seeing such.

An interesting fact about these female cockroaches is that they only mate and pregnant once for the rest of their entire life cycle. Cockroaches usually live up to a year and varies depending on the species.

The egg sac or ootheca holds about 30 to 40 long, thin eggs all packed like frankfurters in a case. The egg hatches using combined pressure of the hatchlings gulping air and these initially bright white nymphs continue inflating themselves with air, becoming harder and darker within four hours.

Depending on the species of a female cockroach, she will retain the ootheca until it hatches , for example the German Cockroach (Blattella germanica). While other species, for eg. the American Cockroach (Periplaneta americana) female will not retain the ootheca for more than one day after formation and she will find a suitable hiding spot to drop and glue the ootheca until it hatches in 50-55 days. In my opinion, this American Cockroach is the ugliest cockroach that you can find commonly everywhere here. 

This picture of female cockroach is a much prettier one as compared to the common American   Cockroaches. She was spotted in the late morning and remained motionless on the the same spot for a few hours. As I looked closer only to realise her ootheca that she was carrying. Assistance needed to help id the exact species of this pretty cockroach...

All that you need to know about cockroaches can be found in Joe Kunkel's Cockroach FAQ.

Other interesting links on roaches:
Wikipedia Cockroach

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Saturday, February 20, 2010

My 12-Hour Day At Datai Rainforest

My Chinese New Year break away from the hell resort has finally arrived! Yeah!

The first day of my holiday today was waking up early and driving myself to Jalan Datai Resort to have close-ups of any wildlife. 

Dusky Langurs or Dusky Leaf Monkeys (Trachypithecus obscurus spp.) arrived shortly to greet us and then followed by two male Oriental Pied Hornbills (Anthracoceros albirostris)
A lively morning for us from the wildlife with the Giant Squirrels (Ratufa bicolor) feeding; a Crested Goshawk (Accipiter trivirgatus) perched high up on a strangling fig tree waiting patiently for its next victim; a pair of Black Baza (Aviceda leuphotes) and a Brahminy Kite (Haliastur indus) hovering; Flameback woodpeckers family doing vertical climb, the ever busy Orange-Bellied Flowerpecker (Dicaeum trigonostigma)
a pair of majestic White-Bellied Sea Eagles (Haliaeetus leucogaster) guarding their nest and much more. Our walk ended with a male Oriental Pied Hornbill (Anthracoceros albirostris) attending to the nest cavity and regurgitating its food. 
After a quick breakfast, I went exploring the area and a trail. As the day grew hotter, the birds disappeared. Aha! a wildlife observation hut was found on one of the trails.

Another clearly marked trail in the lowland rainforest was an easy walk and allowed me to photograph some of the flora and fauna. The dry season now has made the forest floor comfortable to walk on. 
Looking up to a strangling fig tree or two?
The strangling fig trees at the bottom

A stream, Datai River that is almost drying up. I am so looking forward to the wet season to have lots of water and camping time!
Can someone please help to ID this spider?
Help needed to ID this flower?

Help needed to ID this ochid?

Ixora family (Thanks Aida for the ID).

Ixora and its fruits. Ants just love this plant that provides the nectar.  

Time sure flies like a rocket when one is immersed in the tranquility of the rainforest. By the time I was out of the trail, it was way past my lunch time.

Stopping by Tiga cafe was indeed my plan since last night. Tiga cafe is located opposite of Temurun Waterfall along Jalan Datai . Run by Nas and Jeff, Tiga is a roadside cafe at the edge of the rainforest that provides a relaxing atmosphere for lunch or just simply to have an ice-cream. Their ice-cream stock and fridge just arrived today! Now you can have banana split!
The interior of this cafe was designed and set up by the boys themselves. They actually went into the jungle to collect materials, just like the Orang Asli. I know this picture is not up to standard. I was too lazy to move around and my bum was glued to the comfortable chair.

Jeff was surely good at making customers linger on at the cafe. He kept serving me drink after drink until the kitchen was closed. Nas, the cook, relaxed with his big serving of ice-cream. Once the cafe is closed at the end of the day, their dogs will be freed. Taking their dogs for a walk on the pebble beach behind the cafe was a great idea. It made me stay longer still.
Adek climbing up the rocky cliff

Adek looking at the beach from the top of the cliff

A view from the top of Pebble Beach. I think those boys named the beach.
Woody relaxing with a dip in the sea to cool off
Woody up close and personal

A long day that seemed so short. What a day to kick start my holiday!  

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Thursday, February 11, 2010

Tung Tung-Tung Chang!!

like to wish all my blog followers and readers a very Happy Chinese New Year 2010... 

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Wednesday, February 10, 2010

My Week of Snake Skin

Another discarded snake skin found this morning in Tanjung Rhu Mangroves of Langkawi. This must be my week of discarded snake skins.

Our boat was closing into the foliage of the mangroves and our skipper slowed down and started to reverse. Then suddenly, one of my guests shouted, "A snake!". My eyes were looking everywhere on the lowest branches of the trees. Feeling a bit embarrassed to ask, my mind was asking "Where? Where?". I looked at my skipper for a clue and then he said in Malay, "Kulit ular" (snake skin). I saw the discarded skin dangling on the leaves. However, my guests were still focusing on a different spot. And then shortly, I saw that snake hanging on the limbs.  Even my skipper who has good eyes didn't even spot it first... hahahhaha...

Everyone took their turn to snap pictures of the snake with the new skin. Because of that and all the excitement on the boat, I literally forgot to take a picture of the discarded skin. Bah!! That snake had a very beautiful shining skin and it looked "brand new" indeed. Unfortunately the discarded skin was incomplete. The head has gone.  

Someone asked me the species of that snake. "It is a Mangrove Pit viper!" Upon hearing that word "viper", the boat tilted to one side because most of them moved across away from that snake. 

The picture above was taken in November 2009. Mangrove Pit Vipers (Trimeresurus purpureomaculatus) are commonly found in mangroves of Langkawi and spotting one can be a challenge. They can be spotted hanging on the limbs of the trees between a meter to 3 meters above the water.  

One of my encounter with a mangrove pit viper was when I was pointing my finger to the mudflat while talking and looking at my group. As I looked down to where I was pointing, a juvenile pit viper was less than a meter away and ready to strike. Phew!

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Saturday, February 6, 2010

A Snake Resident

Two days ago, I was feeling lazy and I had to push myself to do a few laps in the swimming pool of an apartment. This was because I didn't feel like doing a bike ride in the hot and sunny mid-morning. 

After my swim, I was out of the pool to dry myself. Not knowing what made me turned to the bushes below me, I noticed something white and slightly shiny under the reflection of the afternoon sun.

It was longish. I observed how that thing stretched itself, made sharp turns and rubbing on a thin branch to another. Ouch... I imagined it must be quite a painful process having to stretch itself out of that. It was already dried.

The black arrows are pointing at the turning points of each branch.

I have yet to see and feel a complete discarded snake skin with its head still intact. 
The head showing its eye caps
What did I do with it? I took it home, of course. With Mandy's help, we measured the discarded skin.

The discarded skin is about the length of 125cm from the tip of the head to the tip of the tail

My guess for this species of snake from its discarded skin may be a cobra from the family Elapidae (elapids).

This is interesting. 
Ecdysis is a process of skin shedding for reptiles, arthropods, insects, etc. A healthy snake usually will shed its skin in one entire piece with little or no difficulty at all. While sick snakes, those suffering from malnutrition will tend to shed their skins in pieces and this is known as Dysecdysis

A snake will be inactive for a period of 1-2 weeks and the eyes will turn dull and cloudy.  The duration of inactivity varies for different species. During this period, the snake's vision is impaired resulting in unpredictable and aggressive behavior. The underlying new skin is soft and vulnerable to damage. 

The snake will make use of any rough surfaces within its enclosure to shed the skin. The skin of the head will start first. 

Once the snake has shed its skin successfully, it usually defecate and will look for lots of water to drink. Hmmm... no wonder this discarded skin was found in the bush by the swimming pool. Oops!!

Another interesting fact, a discarded skin is not a reliable measure of its true length!

The above is a closed up picture of the discarded skin. What a beauty! No wonder homo sapiens love to make bags out of snake skins. Psst... by the way... there is a resort here that sells ladies' bags made out of cobras, pythons and water snakes. 
This discarded skin is now sitting in a glass jar together with silica gels  to absorb extra moisture. Thanks to the Tips on How to Preserve a Shed Snake Skin

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