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 Reticulated Python & Masked Finfoot (1999)

Acrylic on illustration board
20" x 30"
 Capable of attaining a length in excess of thirty feet, the reticulated python (Python reticulatus) is by far Asia's biggest snake. Ranging throughout most of southeast Asia and the Philippines, as far east as Moluccas, the "rectic" is a versatile reptile, occuring in all manner of habitats and feeding opportunistically on most any animal it encounters, from rats to deer to birds like this masked finfoot (Heliopais personata), an uncommon and distant relative of the coot. I agonized over whether or not to paint the female finfoot swimming beneath the surface, which is atypical behavior according to most of the literature (I've never seen this species in nature), but having read some accounts of their occasional diving, and having seen their American equivalent, the sungrebe, dive once, I decided to surrender to my artistic impulses. The incidental species in this piece include the butterfly Junonia almana, a robust damselfly (family Lestidae), water strider (family Gerridae), a minnow (family Cyprinidae), loach (family Cobitidae), forest softshell turtle (Dogania subplana), and water skink (Tropidophorus berdmorei).