The Venomous Cat of Sugi Island
By: Bramantya Widiantoro
The first time I heard the word venomous cat, I think about a four-legged mammal that has fur all over the body and says “meow”. Wait, cats in Sugi Island are venomous?!! What a dangerous place! Well, if that were true, it would definitely shock the world. However, this is no ordinary cat. This is a Gold-ringed cat snake (Boiga dendrophila).
This snake belongs to the Colubridae family which is the largest variant of snake family. Among cat-snakes, Boiga dendrophila is considered big as it can grow up to 2.5 meters (8.2 feet) long. This particular snake is a opisthoglyphous, or rear-fanged, snake. It has a specific pattern which is defined by golden/yellow rings on the body. However, some of the golden parts are small and not connected. This snake can be found in Riau Archipelago including Sugi Island. The common species found in the region is Boiga dendrophila melanota.
The Boiga dendrophila can be found in mangrove areas. For that reason some people simply call it a “mangrove snake” because of its habitat. This snake is mostly nocturnal. It preys on small animal like birds, bats, rats, etc. During daylight hours, it just hangs in trees and appears to be sleeping. Although it seems quiet, the snake is mildly venomous and naturally aggressive which can be dangerous recipe if someone inexperienced attempts to play with it.
Note: Thanks to Nick Baker and Ecology Asia for the great pictures.
Baker, N. “Gold Ringed Cat Snake.” Snakes of Southeast Asia. Ecology Asia. Web. 11 Feb 2014. <http://www.ecologyasia.com/verts/snakes/gold-ringed_cat-snake.htm>