lørdag 16. juli 2011

VIPER SWALLOWING A PREY


Viper smelling it`s way to the dead mouse
D3s, 105 mm micro 2,8, fill in flash 2 stk SB-R200, f13,0, 1/50, -1,0, ISO 800

As I was fortunate to do my closeup photography on all three recident species of snakes in Norway (check out blog from May), I actually had two "wild ideas" about pushing the limits on my work with these species. One of these ideas was to document the common viper (Vipera berus / huggorm) swallow a prey. This has to my knowledge hardly been done before (if you know otherwise : please let me know), although my childhood hero photographer and biologist Per Hafslund presented a picture of a viper swallowing a frog..... some time back in the sixties. The reasons for this is obvious : the viper is a shy animal, this is of course a situation you just don`t stumble into and get in position to shoot and, ... most important : the viper is known not to take food in captivity.

Knowing that these animals are protected by law, I took myself the liberty to "borrow" a big female for a limited period of time. I named the lady Hanne Hugh and worked with her continuously to make her accept my sounds and careful movements. . Natural food for vipers are mice, and mousetraps were active in the nearby forest to "fill the deep freezer".. It`s long and complicated story, but the short version is as follows :

A dead mouse was collected in the freezer and melted to room temperature. However, it was considered essential to warm the mouse to "live / living" temperature. Using the microwave oven in the kitchen seemed like an obvious solution, ... but my wife refused it !!! OK; plan B : the hairdryer came in handy for the purpose. The warm mouse was then held in continuous motion in front of the snake.... and it worked !!! She stroke ! She opened her jaws to 180 degrees and in a glimpse inserted her long fangs into the dead mouse. Twice !!

Now, what happens next in nature is that the viper lets the mouse run away (if holding it she might risk an injury from a mousebite), the mouse however quickly dies and the snake tracks it down by smell. Same thing was done here : the dead mouse was pulled / dragged along the moss leaving a track of smell and put in position for pictures.

Waiting ! Minutes felt like hours. I was afraid the snake might hear my heartbeats ! Nothing happened. I was starting to get that good old failure-feeling. Finally she started smelling and locating the prey. The rest is documented in the pictures.

Controlled situation ? Yes, of course, .... and I am proud of this work.

As always when it comes to local "snakery" : a warm thank you to my friend Paal. Without his knowledge and experience this would not have been possible.

PS : The lady is now back where she came from, happy and well fed !!

PS : The other "wild idea" about local snake photography ? Coming soon !!

PS : Sorry for writing so long. Next time I`ll be shorter !!


After curling up around the prey the viper has located the head a the mouse (Yellownecked mouse / Stor skogmus) and starts the swallowing process.
D3s, 105 mm micro 2,8, fill in flash SB900, f16,0, 1/60, ISO 1600


Prey : Bank vole / klatremus
D3s, 105 mm micro 2,8, fill in flash SB900, f16,0, 1/160, -1,0, ISO 2000


Prey : Bank vole / klatremus
D3s, 105 mm micro 2,8, fill in flash SB900, f16,0, 1/100, -0,33, ISO 2000


Prey : Yellownecked mouse / Stor skogmus
D3s, 105 mm micro 2,8, fill in flash SB900, f16,0, 1/80, ISO 1600


Prey : Bank vole / klatremus
D3s, 105 mm micro 2,8, fill in flash 2 stk SB-R200, f11,0, 1/50, -1,00, ISO 800


Prey : Bank vole / klatremus
D3s, 105 mm micro 2,8, fill in flash SB900, f16,0, 1/80, -0,33, ISO 2000


Prey : Bank vole / klatremus
D3s, 105 mm micro 2,8, fill in flash SB900, f16,0, 1/80, -0,33, ISO 2000


The viper is wringing her jaws to get them back in position as the mouse disappears in "the dark"
D3s, 105 mm micro 2,8, fill in flash SB900, f 16,0, 1/80, -0,33, ISO 2000


Prey : Yellownecked mouse / stor skogmus
D3s, 105 mm micro 2,8, fill in flash SB900, f 16,0, 1/40, ISO 1600


Prey : Yellownecked mouse / stor skogmus
D3s,m 105 mm micro 2,8, fill in flash SB900, f16,0, 1/50, ISO 1600


Prey : Bank vole / klatremus
D3s, 105 mm micro 2,8, fill in flash SB900, f16,0, 1/60, -0,33, ISO 2000


The last hair on tip of the mouse-tail disappears...
D3s, 105 mm micro 2,8, fill in flash SB900, f16,0, 1/50, -0,33, ISO 2000

15 kommentarer:

  1. Well I admire you're skills and it's an amazing project! You gained some amazing pictures! Ofcourse the pictures are very "controlled" and I don't think it's a good idea that everyone is going to catch a snake! I see you have gained experience with these snakes and I see you didn't harm the snake but in my opinion this kind of photography is at the limit and maybe slightly over it.

    Nonetheless I can imagine that you are very happy with these pictures! I am looking forward to the next project!

    Gr. Dennis

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  2. Tom, du har blitt helt rå på slanger!!! Er det naboen som har lært deg noe nytt? Jeg ser knapt nok en hoggorm eller to i løpet av sommeren og får langt fra tatt noen bilder av dem.

    Fortsatt god sommer!!

    Kåre

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  3. Flott huggorm serie, dødsråe bilder bokstavlig talt.
    Øyvind Bjerkeseth

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  4. Hei Tom, du fikk det til du!!! Bra jobba, og jeg tror ikke huggormen tok noen skade av dette. Bra bilder også. Skjønner ikke hvordan du får tid til alt du holder på med!!?? Blir spennende å se neste prosjekt med huggormen.

    SvarSlett
  5. Glimrende bilder, Tom! Og du er et forbilde når du er så åpen og ærlig om hvordan de er tatt.

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  6. Vanvittig rått :) Flott at du forteller hvordan det skal gjøres! Jeg er ingen slangeekspert, men jeg ser ikke den store forskjellen på dette og mating av andre fugler eller dyr.

    SvarSlett
  7. WOW, dette var en imponerende billedserie! Utrolig fotoprosjekt.... men skjønner godt at fruen ikke ville ha mus i mikro-en, hehe! :)

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  8. Prisvinnende bilder Tom, helt fantastisk!!

    Knut Børge

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  9. Du har gjort det igjen..... Men jeg tror mus i micro'n vil eksplodere! Fabelaktige bilder! Jeg får fortsette med landskapsfotografering tror jeg....

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  10. Thanx for all these kind words. I would be a liar not to admit it makes me happy !! I have sent an e-mail to Dennis Molenaar. I do not think we disagree on anything related to etics in this situation.

    Har fått synspkt fra Espen Bergesen om at jeg lå ut litt for mange like bilder. Det har du selvfølgelig rett i Espen, men jeg skulle liksom dokumentere "hele svelget". Dessuten : måtehold har dessverre aldri vært min sterkeste side !! Skal prøve å skjerpe meg !

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  11. Oi !! Perkkele ! Espens kommtar gjaldt et annet innlegg (hubro). Sorry Espen, men det kan nok anvendes på huggormene mine også.

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  12. Hei Tom

    Det er bare og gratulere deg når du lykkes med prosjektet og deler det med oss! Når resultatet og blir så knallbra og rått så er det bare og ta av seg hatten for vår fremste reptil fotograf:)

    Ha en fortsatt fin sommer.

    Mvh Rune

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  13. :o) Det gjaldt hubruene ja, her er det jo en story så da blir det jo noe annet. Kule bilder!

    Espen

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  14. Tror ikke at noe av oss i Norge har kommet eller dokumentert så knall råe bilder. Du er bare rå med denne arten. Alltid en glede å besøke bloggen din. Må bruke mye tid gjennom dine bilder og informativ tekst.

    mvh Duy

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