Thursday, July 14, 2011

Costa Rica Day 7 – 8 Eyelash Vipers!

Over the last two days we have seen more incredible wildlife, culminating in today where we found not one, but two Eyelash Vipers (Bothriechis schleglii). The first was a small lichen coloured individual I spotted on a palm while looking for praying mantids in the afternoon. The second was an incredible yellow-form individual in our backyard within a small tree.

Eyelash Vipers are relatively small snakes growing up to around 800mm, however they have highly toxic venom. They are arboreal, and are well adapted for life in trees, having a prehensile tail and strong body for climbing. They have heat sensitive pits between their eyes and nostrils and feed upon birds, small mammals, lizards and frogs. Like Australian Death Adders (Acanthophis spp.), Eyelash Vipers utilise caudal luring; the tip of the tail is wriggled like a worm or grub to attract their prey.

Eyelash Viper (Bothriechis schleglii). A young individual with lichen colouration.

Although these snakes are quite placid, their cryptic appearance and tendency to hang low down in trees and shrubs at night does result in some human contact. Bites from this species often occur around the head and chest area, and several people die in Costa Rica each year as a result. 

Eyelash Viper (Bothriechis schleglii). A brilliant yellow adult, in a tree in our backyard.

No comments:

Post a Comment