Friday, April 17, 2009

In the blink of an eyelash...

I've been to Costa Rica many times, and my list of 'creatures to see' has shrunk to very few. While seeing sloths and glass frogs are always at the very top of the list, I have seen (and held) both of those. (Yes, I have a penchant for picking up troptical creatures. Don't ask.) What I had never seen (nor held, but that didn't happen today, tempting as it might have been) was an eyelash viper. But these morning I finally found one - out in the woods of a smaller trail at La Selva, the OTS research station here in the lowland Caribbean. (Correction - one of the OTS guides found one, and showed me... I can't quite claim discovery on this one, as I walked right by him (her?) the first time).

The eyelash viper - Bothreicheis schlegelii - is a thing of beauty. They are surprisingly small - coiled up, it would have fit in the palm of my hand, had I been so inclined. Not to say it wouldn't have packed quite a punch of a bite, if I had gotten too close - one must always be suspicious of eyelashes that long. Besides, they apparently jump. Fortunately, my camera has a long lens. What you can't see in the photos are the inordinately yellow eyes. Quite... striking...

Other highlights of the morning? The families of peccaries, which have apparently exploded in population, possibly due to a decrease in predatory (ie, jaguar and puma) populations in the area. They were snuffling outside my room this morning. I'd like to claim they woke me up, but after minimal sleep yesterday, that honour went to the howlers. And my purposely obnoxious cell phone alarm clock. Not sure which one is scarier. When breakfast ENDS at 7:30, you don't want to sleep in... Then there were the poison dart frogs, who after a long-awaited rain are out in full-force. The toucans, the coatimundi, all lovely.

But really, nothing can beat those eyelashes.

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