We’ve had a great time at the station so far. For me, the delay in permits for my participation in work on the beach has been great! More time to look for snakes and a reasonable schedule that includes some sleep! The snakes have not been exceptionally abundant but consistent. I know you’re asking what is new! Today, I was bitten by a snake species that I have not been bitten by before: a northern cat-eyed snake, Leptodeira septentrionalis. Better still, Caitlin McManus was there to document the experience. Caitlin is a student of Fleming College’s Environmental Visual Communications program. She’s at Cano Palma as part of her 8 week field placement documenting work at the station and produce some promotional materials that will help people understand the work that happens at Cano Palma….okay, back to the snake bite.
Northern cat-eyed snakes are rear-fanged. The enlarged teeth at the back of the jaw are associated with special glands that produce a mild venom used to subdue their prey. When you don’t have arms and legs to hold onto your food, the faster you can subdue it the easier it will be to swallow it. The snake managed to get a good grip on my thumb while I was handling it so I decided to let nature run it’s course and see what happens. I’m still going through the experience 7 hours later so I can’t finish the story for you yet. Stay tuned. Have a look at the photos below for a look into what is involved in our snake processing (all photos courtesy of Caitlin McManus – they may not be used for any purpose without the permission of the photographer):
The cat-eyed snake that bit me. Note the little drop of blood on my thumb near the snake’s head. The story of the effect of the bite will be posted when the effects wear off!
Liam measuring the weight of the cat-eyed snake.
Our second Fer-de-lance, Bothrops asper, of the trip safely restrained in a tube and ready for processing.
Gentle restraint of the snake’s body to make length measurement a little easier.
Proper and cautious grip of the head for head measurements…always a time for great focus, concentration, and caution.
Long, sharp, hypodermic needles built in…one of nature’s fastest and most efficient venom delivery systems.
Posted in Cano Palma, Josh, Monitoring Amphibians & Reptiles, Reptile Biology & ID, Tropical Field Ecology | Comments (4)
Eyelash Viper, Bothriechis schlegeli.
My first snake encounter occurred last night! We (Josh, Zach, April and me) went out on snake patrol, starting along the Boardwalk trail and finishing on the Raphia trail. Near the end of the boardwalk, Josh spotted a tan-coloured Eyelash viper Bothreichis schlegeli hunting on the topside of an old palm frond. This was the first snake that I have seen in the wild in Costa Rica with the second being the common Northern Cat-eyed snake Leptodeira septentrionalis that we also found last night. Josh spotted the viper and quickly organized us to get the equipment ready, bag the snake and collect the data efficiently. We bagged the snake using snake hooks and a pillow case, then took GPS coordinates, temperature, and site location details. Today the Fleming group processed the snake; recording gender, snout-vent length, tail length, body width, body height, head length, head width, head depth and weight. This data will be added into Cano Palma’s database and may be used in the future for research and conservation efforts. As for processing the snake, we followed proper protocol for dealing with venomous snakes. We all waited in anticipation as Josh unveiled the snake to the group. The viper was slightly irritated, so we waited for it to relax, until it would crawl up the bucket and into the tube. However, as nature isn’t perfect, Josh had to raise the snake out of the bucket with a snake hook, put it on the edge of the bucket then encouraged it into the tube. We had practice processing a venomous snake earlier this week, so everyone was pretty calm.
View of snake in a restraining tube used to safely handle it.
Just previous to the snake walk last night was our first Spanish lesson. I struggled trying to understand Mario (a Costa Rican and Botanist) as he repeated phrases fluently in his native tongue followed by a big smile and laugh. It was the first of many Spanish-speaking nights, and I hope that by the end of my six weeks that I’ll be able to put sentences and phrases together to communicate efficiently, laugh along with the group so that I can truly understand Costa Rican spanish, especially if I become a patrol leader for sea turtle walks!
Measuring head depth as part of morphometric research.
Posted in Cano Palma, Kari, Monitoring Amphibians & Reptiles, Reptile Biology & ID, Tropical Field Ecology | Comments (0)