Is that a feather boa? Oh no, pardon me, it’s a snake.

(912 days)

Picture yourself in an idyllic forest in Thailand, gently wading through calm shallow ponds, dappled sunlight casting diamond patterns on your normally grotesque tourist feet. Small fish are darting around amongst the patches of soft green river grasses, jewel colored dragonflies hover above the water, it’s all very lovely. Now imagine you are serenely gazing at a patch of river grass that is undulating in a particularly mesmerizing way, indeed it appears to dance in a completely different fashion to that of the other weeds swaying in the gentle current. In fact the more you look at it, the odder it becomes, it curls and uncurls like the ribbons of rhythmic gymnasts, and now it doesn’t like long grass anymore, now it looks like a feather boa… a feather boa with a face..and fangs. Oh blimey, it’s a snake! In the water with your bare grotesque, yet very vulnerable, tourist tootsies.

By now I should hope all of you will have imagined yourselves leaping out of the water with the enthusiasm of a prima ballerina, and pulling on a stout pair of mid calf boots. Then and only then should you tentatively venture back to the water’s edge, and ask what the bloody hell was that?

This – or something similar – actually happened about eight months ago. Thanks to Youtube you can take a look at the adorable critter below.

So what’s going on here, is it a previously undiscovered species, the Feather Boa Constrictor maybe?

Well sorry to disappoint you, but no. It’s a regular little water snake that’s leading something of a sedentary lifestyle. This lazy reptile has been lounging about in the warm shallows with a high algae content for so long that moss has grown all over it, transforming into a rather winsomely furry little chap. If you watch the video for long enough you’ll see the underside of the snake is still bare scales. Nor is this the first time that one of these hirsute serpents has been found, researchers in Bangladesh were recording them back in 2012 and they’ve been spotted all over South East Asia, and Australia. The process of transformation has the unfortunate name of “algal fouling” (nice, right, sounds like something that happens when you walk under a bridge that’s home to a flock of diarrhea ridden pigeons) but the result of this fouling can be deceptively adorable. I shall leave you with a picture of a snake that has the same cuteness factor as a toddler with a mohawk.


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