Ryukyu green snake – Reptiles of Okinawa by Shawn Miller

The Ryukyu Green snake (Cyclophiops semicaricartus) is a non-venomous snake found throughout the Ryukyu Islands. They are fairly common here on Okinawa. I often find them in the Yanbaru forest. They are harmless and pose no threat to your safety.

  • Scientific name: Cyclophiops semicaricartus
  • Local name: Ryukyu Ao Hebi - Ryukyu Green snake
  • Distribution:  Ryukyu Islands
  • Habitat:  Forests and grasslands
  • Diet:  Earth worms
  • Average size:  60cm -80cm
  • Color:  Olive green with a yellow belly
 Ryukyu Green snake (Cyclophiops semicaricartus)

Ryukyu Green snake (Cyclophiops semicaricartus)

There’s a snake on my snake boot! I highly recommend wearing snake boots while herping in northern Okinawa.  Check out my post on venomous snakes of Okinawa for more info.

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Snake boot – Ryukyu Green snake (Cyclophiops semicaricartus)

A juvenile Ryukyu green snake interested in the Canon 100mm 2.8 lens.

Ryukyu snake on the Canon 100mm macro lens

Ryukyu snake on the Canon 100mm macro lens

The snakes are sometimes found crossing the road a night.

 Ryukyu Green snake (Cyclophiops semicaricartus)

Ryukyu Green snake (Cyclophiops semicaricartus)

The  Ryukyu Green snake feeds on earth worms, no need to kill it.

Road Kill - Ryukyu Green snake (Cyclophiops semicaricartus)

Road Kill – Ryukyu Green snake and beetles

Have a great day – Shawn Miller

The Coconut Crab – Terrestrial hermit crabs of the Ryukyu Islands

Coconut crabs are the largest terrestrial hermit crabs of the Ryukyu Islands. They are scarce on the Island of Okinawa due to over-hunting. They are sold in local fish markets for high prices. The meat of the the coconut crab is sought after and considered a delicacy.  No conservation programs are set in place to protect this native crab. It is currently listed as data deficient on the IUCN list of Threatened species.

  • Scientific name: Birgus latro
  • Common name: Coconut crab, robber crab and palm thief
  • Distribution: Majority of the Ryukyu Islands
  • Habitat: Coastal forest
  • Diet: Seeds, fruit and carrion
  • Average size: 20-40 centimeters
  • Color: Purple, blue or orange
Look into my eyes- Robber crab

Look into my eyes –  coconut crab

Terrestrial hermit crabs live in the coastal forest where the treeline and coastline meet. They are the caretakers of the coastal forest. They scavenge on marine life and any dead animals washed ashore. They also feed on plants, flowers, fruits and seeds in the treeline. They also help disperse seeds in the forest, specifically the screw pine tree seeds.

The Climber- robber crab

The Climber- Adult coconut crab

Pandanus trees with spiky sword shaped leaves provide a perfect environment for the Coconut crabs to thrive.

Pandus odifer

Pandus odifer – favorite food

Okinawa’s harsh limestone coastline.

Coconut crab - Onna village

Coconut crab – Onna village

Photographed on on a white portable outdoor studio for the Meet Your neighbours project. ( Connecting people worldwide with the wildlife in their community )

Coconut crab- MYN technique

Coconut crab- MYN technique

Meet Crabzilla! – The most aggressive crab I have encountered on Okinawa.   Coconut crabs are fearless and have bone crushing power. You do not want to get caught by the claw, You play you will Pay!!

Crabzilla -Okinawa

Crabzilla -Okinawa

Coconut crabs spend their day hiding in burrows.  They venture out searching for food late at night.  This juvenile was found crossing the road.

Let's dance- Coconut crab

Let’s dance- Coconut crab

Have a great day!

 

 

Akamata – Ryukyu odd-tooth snake

The Ryukyu odd-tooth snake (Dinodon semicarinatum) is a non-venomous snake found throughout the Ryukyu Islands. They are fairly common here on Okinawa and are usually found at night. The Akamata is a natural enemy of the venomous Habu snake. They are one of the few snakes capable of feeding on venomous pit vipers.  More effort should be focused on conserving this native snake for this specific reason. This beautiful snake has been overlooked and needs to be protected. Sadly I see more dead in the road than alive.

  • Scientific name:  Dinodon semicarinatum
  • Local name:  Akamata – Ryukyu odd-tooth snake
  • Distribution:  Ryukyu Islands
  • Habitat:  Forests, drainage ditches and housing areas
  • Diet:  Snakes, lizards, frogs, snakes, birds, baby sea turtles and rodents.
  • Average size:  100cm -180cm
  • Color:  Black, orange with a yellow belly.

They are often found crossing the road at night.

Akamata - Ryukyu odd-tooth snake

Akamata – Ryukyu odd-tooth snake

Ready to strike ! A example of what the Akamata looks like when it is threatened.

Akamata - Ryukyu odd-tooth snake

Akamata – Ryukyu odd-tooth snake

Photographed on a white for the Meet Your Neighbours Project. (Connecting People Worldwide with the Wildlife in their Community)

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Ryukyu odd-tooth snake -MYN

Slow and low perspective -

Crossing the road - Ryukyu odd-tooth snake

Crossing the road – Ryukyu odd-tooth snake

A juvenile Akamata feeding on a common gecko tail first.

Akamata feeding on a gecko - tail first

Akamata feeding on a gecko – tail first

A large Akamata feeding on a Okinawa tree frog.  Kume Island.

Ryukyu odd-tooth snake feeding

Ryukyu odd-tooth snake feeding

A juvenile Akamata feeding on a Okinawa tree lizard .Okinawa

Ryukyu odd-tooth feeding

Ryukyu odd-tooth feeding

This My fist time seeing a juvenile Akamata pull back and puff out its head to resemble the diamond shape of a venomous pit viper. Is the Coincidence or mimicry. I know this is common occurrence with other non-venomous snakes around the world. I believe this juvenile snake saw me as a threat.

Ryukyu odd-tooth snake puffing its head

Ryukyu odd-tooth snake puffing its head

Have a great day!

 

Seashells of Okinawa

The beautiful seashells of the Ryukyu Islands.

It all started in 1989,  I went to a friend’s house and saw some beautiful seashells displayed on a counter-top.  My first thought was that they were fake or man-made. The intricate design of the Venus comb Murex shell caught my eye.  I was fascinated by the design and wanted to learn more about the animal that produced this beautiful shell.

Murex spicatus -Venus comb murex

Murex spicatus -Venus comb murex

I continued to collect,  photograph and read more about marine mollusks from the Ryukyu Islands. I eventually started contributing my collection samples to worldwide museums, scientists, specialists and images for various scientific publications. I currently do not collect shells anymore but enjoy photographing the marine snails in their natural habitat.

General rules to shell collecting

  • Be respectful to the environment.
  • Only collect dead specimens
  • Avoid over collecting sea-shells
  • If you turn over rocks, place them back in the original position

Below are some of my favorite shells found on Okinawa.

Semipallium dianae - scallop

Semipallium dianae – scallop

Neocancilla takiisaoi

Neocancilla takiisaoi

Cardium victor - Heart shell

Cardium victor – Heart shell

Lambis scorpius - scorpion conch

Lambis scorpius – scorpion conch

Morum ponderosum

Morum ponderosum

Annachlamys reevei

Annachlamys reevei – MYN technique

Chicoreus ryukyuensis

Chicoreus ryukyuensis -Okinawa, Japan

Cypraea (Blasicrura) luchuana (Kuroda,1960) Okinawa

Cypraea (Blasicrura) luchuana  -  Okinawa, Japan

Gloripallium speciosum

Gloripallium speciosum – sunray scallop

Avoid handling the venomous cone shells.  They are often found reef walking during low tide.

Venomous cones shells of Okinawa

Venomous cones shells of Okinawa

Sinezona milleri (Geiger & Sasaki , 2009) – Named for the collector of the type specimens, Shawn Miller of Nagahama, Okinawa, for his continued support in malacological research by providing marine sediment samples of Okinawa.

Sinezona milleri (Geiger & Sasaki , 2009)

Sinezona milleri (Geiger & Sasaki , 2009)

Hemilienardia shawnmilleri.  A new species named after naturalist and underwater photographer Shawn Miller. Described by Shawn Wiedrick.

Hemilienardia shawnmilleri

Hemilienardia shawnmilleri

Have a great day!

Nature therapy- Chasing waterfalls on Iriomote Island

This was my fist time exploring Iriomote Island and I have to say it was an outstanding experience.  We were fortunate to have great weather with sunny days. The waterfalls were flowing with clear pristine water.  The twelve hour hike with an experienced guide and four good friends (Pete Leong, Mark Thorpe, Vish Lazcano and Nayuta Hirana) paid off.

The mission was to get some nature therapy and photograph three Impressive waterfalls. I spent most of my time just enjoying the moment and taking documentation photographs with my GoPro Hero 4 Silver.

This was our first view of Maryudo falls in the distance.

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Mariyudo falls, Iriomote

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Mariyudo falls, Iriomote Island

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Mariyudo no-taki, Iriomote Island

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Shooting Mariyudo falls, Iriomote Island

Mariyudo falls is a popular swimming area.  Watch out for leeches!

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Shooting Mariyudo falls, Iriomote Island

On to the next waterfall, Kanpire waterfall is only a ten minute walk from Mariyudo.

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Kanpire waterfall -Iriomote

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Kanpire waterfall -Iriomote

The two hour hike begins! time to find the most amazing waterfall known as Mayagusuku falls.

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Freshwater pools -Iriomote

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River trekking – Iriomote Island

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River trekking – almost there!

We finally made it to Mayagusuku falls! It was worth the hike!

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Mayagusuku falls -Iriomote Island

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Mayagusuku falls -Iriomote Island

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Mayagusuku falls -Iriomote Island

The climb to the top was the most impressive part of my trip ! The falls reminded me of a scene cut from Jurassic park.

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Mayagusuku falls -Iriomote Island

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Mayagusuku falls -Iriomote Island

I really didn’t want to leave this waterfall but we had get back before nightfall.

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The beauty of Iriomote Island

Twelve hours later…  we made it back safe!

Hummingbirds on Okinawa

I’m sorry to disappoint you but we do not have any hummingbirds on Okinawa.  We do have hawk moths that resemble hummingbirds. The hawk moths are also called hummingbird moths. They are extremely fast and challenging to photograph.

I used a slow shutter speed to convey motion in the wings of the Hummingbird hawk moth (Macroglossum corythus)

Hummingbird hawk-moth

Hummingbird hawk-moth

I often find the insects feeding early morning and or late in the evening. They feed using a long proboscis to drink the nectar.

Hummingbird hawk-moth

Hummingbird hawk-moth

They are hard to see since they are small (35 -45mm) and move extremely fast. They can be heard creating a humming sound as they fly by. They hover for a short period of time collecting the nectar and move on to the next flower.

Hummingbird hawk-moth

Hummingbird hawk-moth

Hummingbird hawk-moth

Hummingbird hawk-moth

The Convolvulus hawk moth ( Agrius convolvuli ) is the largest hawk moth I have seen on Okinawa.

 Convolvulus hawk moth

Convolvulus hawk moth

The Impatiens Hawk moth feeds in the evening. I found this moth resting on a plant.

Impatiens Hawk Moth (Theretra oldenlandiae)

Impatiens Hawk Moth (Theretra oldenlandiae)

Impatiens Hawk Moth (Theretra oldenlandiae) larvae photographed on white using the MYN studio technique.

Impatiens Hawk Moth (Theretra oldenlandiae) larvae

Impatiens Hawk Moth (Theretra oldenlandiae) larvae

Green Pergesa Hawk moth larvae ( Pergesa acteaus)

Green Pergesa Hawk moth larvae ( Pergesa acteaus)

Have a great day !

 

 

The Hallowell’s tree frog – Okinawa

The Hallowell’s tree frog ( Hyla hallowellii ) is found on Okinawa, Amami and Tokunoshima Island.

  • Scientific name: Hyla hallowellii
  • Common name: Hallowell’s tree frog
  • Distribution: Ryukyu Islands
  • Habitat: Forests, grassy areas and farm fields near water.
  • Diet: Insects
  • Average size: 30mm-40mm
  • Color: Bright green with a white belly

The Hallowell’s tree frog is fairly common but not often seen.  The beautiful frog lives high above the ground in trees making it difficult to find and photograph.

The Hallowell's tree frog

The Hallowell’s tree frog

They are easy to locate during mating season. The male produces a fairly high pitch squeak sound over and over.

The Hallowell's tree frog

The Hallowell’s tree frog -vocal sac

The Hallowell's tree frog

The Hallowell’s tree frog -mating call

The Hallowell's tree frog

The Hallowell’s tree frog

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Let’s protect the wildlife of the Ryukyu Islands.

Ryukyu Kajika frog – Amphibians of the Ryukyu Islands

The Ryukyu Kajika frog (  Buergeria japonica ) is found throughout the Ryukyu Islands. It is the most common frog found on Okinawa.

  • Scientific name: Buergeria japonica
  • Common name: Ryukyu Kajika frog
  • Distribution: Ryukyu Islands
  • Habitat: Forests, mountain slopes, drainage ditches and farm fields.
  • Diet: Small Insects
  • Average size: 25mm-40mm
  • Color: Olive green, brown and golden yellow

This small frog is a master of camouflage. I often find it on rocks, plants, trees, drainage ditches and even our trash.

Ryukyu Kajika frog on tatami mat

Ryukyu Kajika frog on tatami mat

Ryukyu Kajika frog

Ryukyu Kajika frog -macro

Ryukyu Kajika frog

Ryukyu Kajika frog – blending in

Ryukyu Kajika frog

Ryukyu Kajika frog

Ryukyu Kajika frog

Ryukyu Kajika frog- man hole cover

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Ryukyu Kajika frog- skin discoloration

Kajika frog -Iriomote Island

Kajika frog -Iriomote Island

Photographed on white for the Meet Your Neighbours Project

Ryukyu Kajika frog - MYN

Ryukyu Kajika frog – MYN

The males turn a golden yellow during mating season. The season stretches from April to September on Okinawa.

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Ryukyu Kajika frog – mating

Ryukyu Kajika frog

Ryukyu Kajika frog – drainage ditch

The eggs are laid in slow moving and still water sources. The eggs will develop into tadpoles and eventually transform into baby frogs.  I often find tadpoles thriving in farming water buckets.

Ryukyu Kajika frog

Ryukyu Kajika frog -tadpoles

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tadpole transformation- metamorphosis

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Juvenile Kajika frog

The summer months provide a great opportunity for natural predators.The frogs come together in a large numbers.

Crab feeding on frogs

Crab feeding on frogs

Ryukyu Kajika frog

Pryer’s keelback feeding

If you see frogs, there is a possibility that snakes are near by. The snakes patiently wait for frogs in drainage ditches and still water sources. The Kajika frog is the Hime habu’s favorite meal.

Hime habu - GoPro

Hime habu – GoPro

Please subscribe below! Have a great day!

 

Asian grass frog – Amphibians of the Ryukyu Islands

The Asian grass frog  ( Fejervarya limnocharis ) is found on Mainland Japan and most of the Ryukyu Islands. The warty frog is fairly common on Okinawa. It’s biggest threats are pesticide exposure and habitat loss.

  • Scientific name: Fejervarya limnocharis
  • Common name: Asian grass frog, marsh frog and common pond frog
  • Distribution: Ryukyu Islands and Mainland Japan
  • Habitat: Rice fields, ditches, marshes, parks and farm fields.
  • Diet: Insects
  • Average size: 45mm-75mm
  • Color: light brown with a white belly
Asian grass frog - 60mm macro

Asian grass frog – Canon 70d * 60mm macro

Wide angle macro - Canon 70d *Tokina fisheye

Wide angle macro – Canon 70d *Tokina fisheye

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Asian grass frog- Macro

Asian marsh frog - drainage ditch

Asian marsh frog – drainage ditch

Asian marsh frog

Asian marsh frog

Asian grass frog feeding

Asian grass frog feeding

Asian marsh frog - Okuma resort

Asian marsh frog – Okuma resort

Asian grass frog -MYN

Asian grass frog -MYN

All images were taken with the Canon 70d  EFS 10-18mm, Canon 60mm or Tokina fish-eye lens, Scroll down to subscribe to my blog posts -