June 27, 2006

New color-changing snake found in Borneo

GENEVA -- Biologists working in the forests of Borneo have found a previously unknown type of snake which can change its color spontaneously like a chameleon, the environmental body WWF said on Tuesday.

The poisonous snake, about half a meter (half a yard) long, was discovered in the wetlands and swamp forests of Betung National Park in the Indonesian part of the island, which is also shared by Malaysia and Brunei.

When picked up and put in a bucket, it was reddish-brown but later changed its color to white, apparently in an automatic reaction to blend in with surroundings, according to the WWF.

The biologists named the serpent, two specimens of which were recovered, the Kapuas Mud Snake after the river that flows through the region.

The WWF said although some reptiles with legs, like the chameleon lizard, had the ability to change color, it was rare for snakes.