This googly-eyed little bastard is the blunthead tree snake (Imantodes cenchoa).
It lives in Latin America and can’t do anything without looking ridiculous. A case in point:
It’s nocturnal, lives in understory shrubs, sleeps in bromeliads, and, unlike its cousin the twig snake, isn’t venomous unless you’re a small frog.
Above: Ridiculous-looking death in a tube.
Below: “Pathetically inoffensive to humans.”*
If you grab it, its primary defense will be to stink at you, because that’s dignified. To give you an idea of how tiny this thing is, here is a jumping spider thinking of trying its luck.
They live off a diet of frog and lizard eggs, small frogs, and lizards about the diameter of a human finger. Females can take slightly bigger prey, since their heads tend to be a smidge bigger than males’.
Nobody’s really done a lot of research on the whys of their itty bitty teeny little bodies, but the skull size and shape is under extreme evolutionary pressure to stay big enough to support prey consumption and sharp vision, while snake ribs and vertebrae are pretty flexible, allowing the rest of the body to essentially collapse into a camouflage-friendly profile when not digesting food.
We do know that their organ position means that their bodies are significantly backweighted, with their center of gravity clocking in at 74% of their nose-to-ass length** (technically their Snout-Vent Length, which is slightly more hilarious but also slightly more obscure if you’re not a herpetologist, because most people don’t go around calling an asshole a vent). The backweighting does give them way more maneuverability in the head section, which helps when you’re grabbing small, quick things like frogs and lizards and I guess can’t hurt when you’re eating their unborn young, either. Like, you can strike the eggs fast and hard like a ninja and pretend there’s some honor in it or something.
Also, there’s some advantage to being so unbelievably long and skinny that this is possible:
At least if you tend to live in short, shrubby trees. See, if you have x amount of biomass, and you spread it out over 3-5 feet, like these little bastards do, instead of concentrating it into one normal-looking snake, you’re much less likely to find yourself unsupported by vegetation. And I don’t mean that like, the vegetation won’t believe in you. I mean, the vegetation will dump you on your ass if you slither across it as a normal snake.
Skinny Minnie up there has much better odds of being able to scoot across a few twigs and leaves without them giving, and the greater length means that it can anchor itself at multiple points along a path. It also requires less strength to remain erect while stretching over fair distances.
Above: Too goofy-looking for words.
*Quote apparently from the field notes of Alejandro Arteaga, a particularly judgmental herpetologist.
**Data but not color commentary from International Journal of Morphology, 24(1):43-48, 2006.
[The line drawing appears to be the work of the authors of “Imantodes cenchoa (Chunk-headed snake) Mating” in Herpetological Review 36(3):324, 2005, but artist attribution isn’t specifically stated, because science journals.]