Saturday, November 7, 2009

Sugarcane and Habu


This is one of the many sugarcane fields here on Okinawa. They are everywhere! You can find small cane fields just about anywhere on the island, from downtown Naha, to the rural northern areas. Anywhere that there's an open spot of dirt, somebody will plant a crop of some kind, and sugarcane is one of the most popular here.

The sugarcane, and other crops, are a bit of a double edged sword: They provide income and food, but they are home to one of the island's more dangerous inhabitants, the habu. Habus are a local species of viper, similar to a rattlesnake, and easily irritated. If they feel threatened, they will bite. The crops draw mice, and the mice attract the habu. Luckily, the habu's venom is only fatal to about 3% of its victims. On the other hand, bites are actually pretty common, at about 1 per 1,000 people (article here). That can make Geocaching pretty interesting.

Here's a picture of a habu:


Erika Jean said...

Yikes! I don't mind snakes, but the venomous ones scare me! I'm glad I have yet to see a rattle snake, I'm always on the lookout while caching!

PS. I hope YOU didn't get that close for that picture. PLEASE say it's from the internet ;-)

Just John said...

Erika, I did indeed get that picture off of the internet. I have, however encountered a couple of these little rascals in the wild. Luckily, it wasn't quite as close as in that picture. It was scary enough to keep me well clear of them (both appeared to be very small specimens).

Sumajman said...

Wow. Even though we are currently in NC living in Ecuador at altitude (10,000 ft above sea level) we don't have any snakes or poison ivy. That is nice. I travel into Peru and have hidden a cache near a sugar cane field. I called it Raising Cane. I saw in a comment you made on my blog that you may be coming to NC. Lot's of good caches on the coast near Jacksonville and Topsail Beach.

P.J. said...

Can you just grab some and eat the sugarcane?

Just John said...

P.J.: I suppose you could, but the local farmer might be a bit upset. Some farms here have produce stands by the roadside with jars for you to leave a payment (honor system works pretty well here).