A soft thud on the damp litter off the boardwalk between the carpark and grand entrance of Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve is always a call to attention, for the culprit is likely to be a paradise tree snake that had missed its mark and landed on its belly near the foot of a coastal tree. A serpent of irresistible grace and irisdescent beauty with occasional scarlet letters of warning on its back, Chrysopelea paradisi is a work of art with a font of mild venom and the ability to twist its way up steep trunks to esoteric canopies.
A nervous gecko on a nearby branch suggested that the snake had miscued a strike and launched itself on a trajectory of error. Undaunted, it weaved back up to resume a pose rich in intent and rife with cold malice at neighbouring saurians. For a few stiff moments, the young serpent danced before my eyes, probing and piercing a soft wall of resistance in an effort to force a blink and claim the upper hand in a battle of wills between a head of landlocked wit and a gaze ready to take off in a heartbeat to conquer forbidden spaces and void Adam's curse on a beast of wronged burden.